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At normal (ambient) temperatures and pressure, tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) is a colourless, odourless, flammable gas that is only slightly soluble in water. The logPow for tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) was calculated by the US EPA KOWWIN v.1.67 program to be 1.21.

Commercial TFE has a typical purity of >99.7%. Common impurities are various other fluorocarbons, depending upon the conditions of the process.

TFE can decompose explosively in the absence of air, via a dimerisation intermediate, to CF4 and carbon. This reaction can be initiated by exposure of TFE vapour to high temperatures or other ignition sources and its susceptibility increases with increasing pressure. A saturated TFE vapour can explode at a pressure of at least 10320 hPa, while an unsaturated vapour can explode at 25°C and 7900 hPa. TFE is also flammable in air, within certain concentration limits. Furthermore it can undergo explosive autopolymerisation in the presence of oxygen.