Petroleum ether

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This article is about the alkane mixture known as Benzine. For the aromatic hydrocarbon, see Benzene.

Petroleum ether is a highly flammable liquid distillate of petroleum heavier than naphtha and lighter than kerosene. Known variously as benzine, varnish makers & painters naphtha (VM&P), petroleum naphtha, naphtha ASTM, and petroleum spirits, it is a lightweight hydrocarbon used chiefly as a nonpolar solvent. Pether, X4, and ligroin (used by the first motor car, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, as fuel) are related hydrocarbon mixtures.

Petroleum ether is a mixture of alkanes, e.g., pentane, hexane, and heptane, whereas benzene is a cyclic, aromatic hydrocarbon, C6H6. Likewise, petroleum ether should not be confused with the class of organic compounds called ethers, which contain the R-O-R' functional group.


Despite being known as benzine, petroleum ether should not be confused with benzene or benzyne, nor mistaken for gasoline although many languages and dialects use a name derived from benzine for it, e.g. "Benzin" (German, Danish), "benzine" (Dutch), "bensin" (Swedish, Norwegian), "benzina" (Italian and Catalan), "bencina" (Chilean Spanish), or "benzină" (Romanian), and many other similar variants.


Petroleum ether refined from petroleum as the intermediate distillate between the lighter naphtha and the heavier kerosene. It has a specific gravity of between 0.6 and 0.8 depending on its composition. Distillation fractions of petroleum ether are commonly available as: 30 to 40 °C, 40 to 60 °C, 60 to 80 °C, 80 to 100 °C, 80 to 120 °C, and sometimes 100 to 120 °C. The 60 to 80 °C fraction is often used as a replacement for hexane. Petroleum ether is mostly used by pharmaceutical companies and in the manufacturing process. Petroleum ether consists mainly of pentane, and is sometimes used instead of pentane due to its lower cost.[1]


  • Petroleum ether is the main ingredient of some 'label removers'.[2]
Ligroin predominantly consists of C7 to C11 in the form of about 55% paraffins, 30% monocycloparaffins, 12% alkylbenzenes, and 2% dicycloparaffins. It is nonpolar. Generally laboratory grade ligroin boils at 60 to 90 °C.

See also[edit]

  • Solvents


  1. ^ Williamson, Kenneth. Organic Experiments. 9th Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.
  2. ^ Safety Data Sheet: Sticker Remover, HG International b.v., accessed 2012-08-05
  3. ^ "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide". Robert Jay Lifton. Retrieved 1 November 2007.