Petroleum ether

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Petroleum ether
Petroleum ether.JPG
other names
  • Petroleum ether
  • Mineral spirits
  • (lowest boiling point) light petrol
Brief description colorless, very volatile solvent with a gasoline-like odor


CAS number


Physical state liquid

0.664 g cm −3 (25 ° C)

Octane number

approx. 72 RON

Boiling range

25 ° C-80 ° C, DIN 51630

safety instructions
GHS labeling of hazardous substances
02 - Highly / extremely flammable 07 - Warning 08 - Dangerous to health 09 - Dangerous for the environment


H and P phrases H: 225-304-315-336-361f-373-411
P: 201-210-301 + 310-331-370 + 378-501
Toxicological data
As far as possible and customary, SI units are used. Unless otherwise noted, the data given apply to standard conditions .

Petroleum ether is a colorless mixture of different saturated hydrocarbons (usually alkanes like pentane / hexane ). So it is not an ether in the sense of the general chemical nomenclature .


Petroleum ether are low aromatic , low boiling (between about 25 ° C and 80 ° C), highly flammable hydrocarbon - fractions . They are used in processes in which rapid, easy (i.e. also energy-saving) evaporation of the solvent is desired. The requirements are regulated in the DIN 51630 standard.

Petroleum ether is used as a solvent in organic chemistry and as a mobile phase in chromatography .


Petroleum ether is not a chemical from the ether group , but a mixture of different alkanes . The misleading naming can be traced back to the fact that petroleum ether resembles ethers (e.g. diethyl ether ) in its properties (volatile, aprotic) as a solvent .

Mineral spirits

A particularly pure petroleum ether is called wound benzine ( Benzinum medicinale ). Because of its fat-dissolving properties, it can be used to remove oil residues, but also residues from adhesive plasters . Mineral spirits itself is sterile , but unlike alcohols such as ethanol and isopropanol, it has no antibacterial effect.

Since n-hexane , one of the main constituents of wound gasoline, is metabolized in the body to form neurotoxic substances and possibly impair fertility, wound gasoline should no longer be used on living things.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Entry on petroleum ether in the GESTIS substance database of the IFA , accessed on June 15, 2019(JavaScript required) .
  2. ^ Jürgen Falbe, Manfred Regitz: RÖMPP Lexikon Chemie. Volume 4: M – Pk , 10th edition, Georg Thieme Verlag, 1998, ISBN 3-13-734910-9 .
  3. a b c d data sheet petroleum ether (PDF) from Merck , accessed on June 17, 2010.
  4. Stephen R. Clough, Leyna Mulholland: Hexanes. In: Encyclopedia of Toxicology. Volume 2, 2nd Edition, Academic Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-12-369400-3 , pp. 522-525.