Hexamine has an adamantane structure with a high degree of symmetry and the characteristics of tertiary amines. Each of the four nitrogen atoms in its chemical structure has a pair of free electrons that is able to coordinate with various inorganic compounds. Hexamine appears as a white hygroscopic crystalline powder or colorless shiny rhombic crystals. It is odorless and has a sweet and bitter taste. It is soluble in water and chloroform, less soluble in carbon tetrachloride, acetone, benzene and ether, and insoluble in petroleum ether.
Hexamine can react with several chemical compounds such as hydrochloric acid, nitrous acid, hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen cyanide, sulfur and sulfur compounds, etc. It is irritating to the skin and can cause dermatitis.
Hexamine can be made from the condensation reaction of formaldehyde and ammonia. The formaldehyde solution is placed in a reactor and condensed with ammonia in an alkaline solution. The reaction temperature is maintained at 50-70oC. The liquid obtained is then cooled and evaporated at 60-80oC to increase its concentration to 38-42%. The reaction mixture is then filtered, crystallized and dried to yield hexamine. The reaction is fast and essentially quantitative.
It is a therapeutic drug for treating bacterial urinary tract infections. Ingestion of hexamine would eventually result in it being secreted out by the renal and broken down into ammonia and formaldehyde in the presence of acidic urine. The formaldehyde produced would be able to effectively inhibit the G-bacteria as it has a strong antibacterial effect on Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It can be used for treating urinary tract infections caused by susceptible strains. It can also be externally used for the treatment of ringworm, antiperspirants, and underarm odor. Hexamine is the raw material for organic synthesis and can be used for the production of chloramphenicol in the pharmaceutical industry.
It can be used as the curing agent for resins and plastics, the vulcanization accelerator of rubber and as textiles shrink-proof agent.
Hexamine, when mixed with caustic soda and sodium phenol, can be used as the phosgene absorber of gas masks. It can also be used for the manufacture of pesticides. Hexamethylenetetramine can react with fuming nitric acid to obtain highly explosive cyclonite. Hexamethylenetetramine can be used as the reagent and chromatography reagents for the determination of bismuth, indium, manganese, cobalt, thorium, platinum, producing magnesium, lithium, copper, uranium, beryllium, tellurium, bromide, and iodide.