benzene, dimethyl

benzene, dimethyl

benzene, dimethyl: see xylene.
The term xylene or xylol refers to a mixture of three benzene derivatives which is used as a solvent in the printing, rubber, and leather industries. Xylene is a colorless, sweet-smelling liquid that is very flammable. Like other solvents, xylene is also used as an inhalant drug for its intoxicating properties.

Chemical properties

Xylene is a generic term for a group of three benzene derivatives which encompasses ortho-, meta-, and para- isomers of dimethyl benzene. The o-, m- and p- designations specify to which carbon atoms (of the benzene ring) the two methyl groups are attached. Counting the carbon atoms from one of the ring carbons bonded to a methyl group, and counting towards the second ring carbon bonded to a methyl group, the o- isomer has the IUPAC name of 1,2-dimethylbenzene, the m- isomer has the IUPAC name of 1,3-dimethylbenzene, and the p- isomer has the IUPAC name of 1,4-dimethylbenzene. Solvent grade xylene usually contains a small percentage of ethylbenzene as a contaminent.

The chemical properties differ slightly from isomer to isomer. The melting point is between (m-xylene) and (p-xylene). The boiling point for each isomer is around . The density is at around 0.87 kg/L (7.26 lb/U.S. gallon or 8.72 lb/imp gallon) and thus is less dense than water. Xylene in air can be smelled at 0.08 to 3.7 parts of xylene per million parts of air (ppm) and can begin to be tasted in water at 0.53 to 1.8 ppm.


Xylene is used as a solvent and in the printing, rubber, and leather industries. p-Xylene is used as a feedstock in the production of terephthalic acid, which is a monomer used in the production of polymers. It is also used as a cleaning agent for steel and for silicon wafers and chips, a pesticide , a thinner for paint, and in paints and varnishes. It may be substituted for toluene to thin lacquers where slower drying is desired. It is found in small amounts in airplane fuel and gasoline. In animal studies it is often swabbed on the ears of rabbits to facilitate blood flow and collection, although the area must subsequently be cleansed with alcohol to prevent inflammation. Xylene is also used as a fixation agent for animal tissues.

Xylene Isomers
Common name Xylenes o-Xylene m-Xylene p-Xylene
Systematic name Dimethylbenzenes 1,2-Dimethylbenzene 1,3-Dimethylbenzene 1,4-Dimethylbenzene
Other names Xylols o-Xylol;
Molecular formula C8H10 (C6H4C2H6)
SMILES Cc1c(C)cccc1 Cc1cc(C)ccc1 Cc1ccc(C)cc1
Molar mass 106.16 g/mol
Appearance clear, colorless liquid
CAS number [1330-20-7] [95-47-6] [108-38-3] [106-42-3]
Density and phase 0.864 g/mL, liquid 0.88 g/mL, liquid 0.86 g/mL, liquid 0.86 g/mL, liquid
Solubility in water practically insoluble
Soluble in non-polar solvents such as aromatic hydrocarbons
Melting point -47.4°C (-53.3°F; 226 K) −25°C (-13°F; 248 K) −48°C (-54.4°F; 225 K) 13°C (55.4°F; 286 K)
Boiling point 138.5°C (281.3°F; 412 K) 144°C (291.2°F; 417 K) 139°C (282.2°F; 412 K) 138°C (280.4°F; 411 K)
Viscosity .812 cP at .62 cP at .34 cP at
MSDS Xylenes o-Xylene m-Xylene p-Xylene
EU Classification Harmful (Xn)
NFPA 704
Flash point
R/S statement , , : ,
RTECS number ZE2450000 ZE2275000 ZE2625000
Supplementary data page
Structure & properties n, εr, etc.
Thermodynamic data Phase behaviour
Solid, liquid, gas
Spectral data UV, IR, NMR, MS
Related compounds
Related aromatic
toluene, mesitylene, benzene, ethylbenzene
Related compounds xylenols - types of phenols
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25°C, 100 kPa)
Chemical infobox

Related compounds

Xylenes are a starting material for the production of other chemicals. For instance chlorination of both methyl groups gives three isomeric xylene dichlorides or 1,2-bis(chloromethyl)benzenes. With oxidizing agents, such as potassium permanganate (KMnO4), the methyl group can be oxidized to a carboxylic acid. By oxidizing both methyl groups, o-xylene forms phthalic acid and p-xylene forms terephthalic acid.

In articles of commerce, the term xylol refers to the solvent mixture of three xylene isomers, sometimes containing ethylbenzene. In the chemical trade, this mixture is referred to as xylenes (plural). This substance must not be confused with the toxic and corrosive xyleneol compounds, which are dimethyl phenol isomers.

Health effects

Xylene exhibits neurological effects. High levels from exposure for acute (14 days or less) or chronic periods (more than 1 year) can cause headaches, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion, and changes in one's sense of balance . Exposure of people to high levels of xylene for short periods can also cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, difficulty in breathing and other problems with the lungs, delayed reaction time, memory difficulties, stomach discomfort, and possibly adverse effects on the liver and kidneys. It can cause unconsciousness and even death at very high levels (see inhalants). Xylene or products containing Xylene should not be used indoors or around food.

Studies of unborn animals indicate that high concentrations of xylene may cause increased numbers of deaths, and delayed growth and development. In many instances, these same concentrations also cause damage to the mothers. It is not yet known whether xylene harms the unborn fetus if the mother is exposed to low levels of xylene during pregnancy.

Besides occupational exposure, the principal pathway of human contact is via soil contamination from leaking underground storage tanks containing petroleum products. Humans who come into contact with the soil or groundwater may become affected. Use of contaminated groundwater as a water supply could lead to adverse health effects.

See also

External links

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