As one of the most common chemicals used in industry, Xylene it is commonly found in ink, rubber, varnishes, adhesives, jet fuel, gasoline, pesticides, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, and elsewhere. It can be used as a solvent and cleaner for acrylic antiquing sealers on concrete, a paint thinner, and a transfer agent for printed materials, among many other uses.
In histology, it is used as a clearing agent to prepare samples for coverslipping, as well as tissue processing and staining. As a wax solvent, it can remove paraffin from slides prior to use.
Paraxylene, one of its isomers, is also used as a precursor to terephthalic acid and dimethyl terephthalate, both important raw materials for the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of plastic commonly used for bottles and other packaging. Various isomers of xylene are also used as a precursors for polyester fabric, tear gas, and other chemicals.
Vigorous reactions, sometimes amounting to explosions, can result from the contact between these materials and strong oxidizing agents. They can react exothermically with bases and with diazo compounds. Substitution at the benzene nucleus occurs by halogenation (acid catalyst), nitration, sulfonation, and the Friedel-Crafts reaction.
A light colored to colorless liquid with a hydrocarbon odor. Flash point between 52 - 93°F. Less dense than water. Vapors are heavier than air. Vapors may irritate the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. High vapor concentrations may cause central nervous system depression or damage. Liquid contact may irritate eyes and skin. Prolonged liquid contact mat result in defatting and drying of the skin. Avoid ingestion.
Usual impurities are ethylbenzene, paraffins, traces of sulfur compounds and water. It is not practicable to separate the m-, and p-isomers of xylene by fractional distillation, although, with a sufficiently efficient still, o-xylene can be fractionally distilled from a mixture of isomers. Purify (and dry) by fractional distillation from LiAlH4, P2O5, CaH2 or sodium. This treatment can be preceded by shaking successively with conc H2SO4, water, aqueous 10% NaOH, water and mercury, and drying with CaCl2 for several days. Xylene can be purified by azeotropic distillation with 2-ethoxyethanol or 2-methoxyethanol, the distillate being washed with water to remove the alcohol, then dried and fractionally distilled. [Beilstein 5 H 360.]
Inhalation or contact with material may irritate or burn skin and eyes. Fire may produce irritating, corrosive and/or toxic gases. Vapors may cause dizziness or suffocation. Runoff from fire control or dilution water may cause pollution.
Also known as dimethylbenzene, C6H4(CH3)2 is an isomeric mixture of 0- m-, and p-xylene. It is a clear liquid with various grades having different boiling points, that is insoluble in water and soluble in alcohol and ether,and used in aviation gasoline, coatings, lacquers, rubber cements, organic synthesis, and polyester resin manufacture.
Air & Water Reactions
Highly flammable. Water insoluble.
Xylene is used as a solvent. In this application, the mixture of isomers is often referred to
as xylenes or xylol. Solvent xylene often contains a small percentage of ethylbenzene. Like
the individual isomers, the mixture is colourless, sweet smelling, and highly flammable.
Application of xylene is extensive and includes, but is not limited to, printing, rubber, and
Similarly, it is used as a cleaning agent for steel and silicon wafers. In the petroleum
industry, xylene is also a frequent component of paraffin solvents, used when the tubing
becomes clogged with paraffin wax. Xylene is incompatible with strong oxidisers and is
known to cause fires and explosions. There are three forms of xylene in which the methyl
groups vary on the benzene ring: (i) meta-xylene, (ii) ortho-xylene, and (iii) para-xylene.
These forms are referred to as isomers. Xylene is a colourless, sweet-smelling liquid.
Xylene occurs naturally in petroleum and coal tar. Chemical industries produce xylene
from petroleum. It is also used as a cleaning agent and a thinner for paint and in paints,
in glues, in printing inks, and in varnishes. Xylene evaporates quickly from the soil and
surface water into the air.