It forms red crusts, is insoluble in cold water, but is decomposed by boiling water.
The original hypothesis of Baeyer suggested that the course of events is the following: the carbon dioxide is decomposed into carbon monoxide and oxygen, while water is simultaneously split up into hydrogen and oxygen; the hydrogen and the carbon monoxide unite to form formaldehyde and the oxygen is exhaled.
It is decomposed by heat into the oxide and water, and is soluble in ammonia but not in excess of dilute potassium hydroxide; this latter property serves to distinguish it from zinc hydroxide.
It is of nocturnal and burrowing habits, and feeds on decomposed animal substances, larvae and termites.
The formaldehyde at once undergoes a process of condensation oi- polymerization by the protoplasm of the plastid, while the hydrogen peroxide is said to be decomposed into water and free oxygen by another agency in the cell, of the nature of one of the enzymes of which we shall speak later.