Freon (/ˈfrɒn/ FREE-on) is a registered trademark of the Chemours Company and generic descriptor for a number of halocarbon products. They are stable, nonflammable, low toxicity[1] gases or liquids which have generally been used as refrigerants and as aerosol propellants. These include chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons, both of which cause ozone depletion (although the latter much less so) and contribute to global warming. 'Freon' is the brand name for the refrigerants R-12, R-13B1, R-22, R-410A, R-502, and R-503 manufactured by The Chemours Company, and so is not used to label all refrigerants of this type. They emit a strong smell similar to acetone.[2]


The first CFCs were synthesized by Frédéric Swarts in the 1890s. In the late 1920s, a research team was formed by Charles Franklin Kettering in General Motors to find a replacement for the dangerous refrigerants then in use, such as ammonia. The team was headed by Thomas Midgley, Jr.[3] In 1928, they improved the synthesis of CFCs and demonstrated their usefulness for such a purpose and their stability and nontoxicity. Kettering patented a refrigerating apparatus to use the gas; this was issued to Frigidaire, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors.[4]

In 1930, General Motors and DuPont formed Kinetic Chemicals to produce Freon. Their product was dichlorodifluoromethane and is now designated "Freon-12", "R-12", or "CFC-12". The number after the R is a refrigerant class number developed by DuPont to systematically identify single halogenated hydrocarbons, as well as other refrigerants besides halocarbons.

Most uses of CFCs are now banned or severely restricted by the Montreal Protocol of August 1987, as they have been shown to be responsible for ozone depletion.[5] Brands of freon containing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) instead have replaced many uses, but they, too, are under strict control under the Kyoto Protocol, as they are deemed "super-greenhouse effect" gases.[citation needed]

Popular culture

In the 2023 film Godzilla Minus One Freon tanks are used in an attempt to kill the titular monster through explosive decompression.

See also


  1. ^ "R-12 Safety Data Sheet" (PDF). National Refrigerants. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  2. ^ Maltbee, Kirk. "Why Does My Refrigerator Smell Like Nail Polish Remover? By saksham". Hunker.
  3. ^ Sneader W (2005). "Chapter 8: Systematic medicine". Drug discovery: a history. Chichester, England: John Wiley and Sons. pp. 74–87. ISBN 978-0-471-89980-8. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  4. ^ Bellis, Mary. "Freon". Inventors. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  5. ^ "Handbook for the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer - 7th Edition". United Nations Environment Programme - Ozone Secretariat. 2007. Archived from the original on 2016-05-30. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  6. ^ Angie Hicks. "Angie's List-What is a fair price for R22?". Angie's List. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Cooling Refrigerants - Lennox International". Lennox International. Archived from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.