Glutaraldehyde is a clear, colorless, oily liquid with a pungent odor. It is miscible in water, methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, benzene, toluene, chloroform. Glutaric aldehyde is a germicide and desinfectant. It is toxic, causing severe eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, along with headaches, drowsiness and dizziness.
Monomeric glutaraldehyde can polymerize under alkaline catalysis by aldol condensation reaction yielding alpha,beta-unsaturated polyglutaraldehyde.
Industrial production of glutaraldehyde is based on glutaric acid reduction. Commercial product is manufactured as 50% water solution.
Glutaric aldehyde is used:
in sterilizing medical and dental equipment which cannot be heat sterilized;
for industrial water treatment and as a chemical preservative;
as a fixative for biological tissues in electron microscopy;
as a component of leather tanning solutions;
as embalming fluid;
as an intermediate in the production of other chemicals;