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Copper chloride is a solid that appears in anhydrous form as a yellowish-brown powder and gradually absorbs moisture to form a green-blue dihydrate. It is sparingly soluble in water, but is readily soluble in concentrated hydrochloric acid. It is a Lewis acid that forms a number of complexes with ligands such as ammonia and chloride ions. It is also able to react with carbon monoxide to yield copper(I) carboxylate, Cu(CO)(CHO).

In the anhydrous form it is insoluble in cold water but is readily soluble in hot alcohol and in strong acids such as nitric acid and sulfuric acid. It is also readily reduced to elemental copper metal in the presence of reducing anions such as iodine, nitric oxide, or sulfide. Copper(II) chloride is produced naturally as the mineral nantokite and in large scale production by passing dry chlorine gas over heated copper powdered metal.

It is a highly toxic, corrosive, and poisonous chemical when inhaled or ingested. It is absorbed through the skin and eyes, and can cause burns with prolonged exposure. Exposure to copper(II) chloride can damage the lungs and kidneys, especially in people with preexisting illness or injury. It may also irritate the eyes, nose and throat and can thicken the skin.

It is used in electroplating, glass and ceramic colorants, as a catalyst in organic reactions, and as a dye mordant for printing and textiles. It is also used as a wood preservative, insecticide, disinfectant, and water purification agent.