What are Mothballs?

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Mothballs are small balls made from chemicals which repel moths. They are used to prevent moths from chewing on garments and other things placed in storage, ensuring that these items will be in good shape when someone is ready to use them. Many hardware stores sell mothballs, as do some department stores and home supply stores. Mothballs should be stored in a sealed container at all times, as they can be hazardous to human health. Camphor was historically used to make mothballs, but modern mothballs are made from naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. In all cases, these chemicals emit a very distinctive strong odor as they sublimate from a solid to a gaseous state. The gas will kill moths and their larvae, ensuring that they do not colonize items in storage. Studies on mothballs have suggested that they may be carcinogenic, so people should be careful around them. For mothballs to work, they must be kept in a sealed container, which will allow the gas to build up. This also is safer ... more
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Mothballs are insecticides and deodorant chemicals packaged into white balls, and are used to preserve clothes from insects like moths, cockroaches, and even rats. Mothballs also help prevent the growth of mold and mildew, which can destroy the fibers of fabrics and textiles. While there are some sprays available on the market that do the job just fine, mothballs are inexpensive and easy to use. A chemical called naphthalene is the traditional ingredient in mothballs, although it is highly flammable and is a possible carcinogen. Another side-effect of naphthalene is that it can destroy red blood cells. Today's mothballs are made from a chemical called 1,4-dichlorobenzene, which is also used in some insecticide sprays. Some manufacturers try to reduce the pungent smell of mothballs by adding eucalyptus, camphor, menthol, and other ingredients. Mothballs kill insects and arrest the growth of mold through a process called sublimation, or when a solid dissolves and turns into a gaseous ... more

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