Glycol ethers are a group of solvents based on alkyl ethers of ethylene glycol or propylene glycol commonly used in paints and cleaners. These solvents typically have a higher boiling point, together with the favorable solvent properties of lower-molecular weight ethers and alcohols. The word "Cellosolve" was registered in 1924 as a United States trademark by Carbide & Carbon Chemicals Corp. (later named Union Carbide Corp.) for "Solvents for Gums, Resins, Cellulose Esters, and the Like". The first one was ethyl cellosolve (ethylene glycol monoethyl ether), with the name now generic for glycol ethers.
Glycol ethers are either "e-series" or "p-series" glycol ethers, depending on whether they are made from ethylene oxide or propylene oxide, respectively. Typically, e-series glycol ethers are found in pharmaceuticals, sunscreens, cosmetics, inks, dyes and water-based paints, while p-series glycol ethers are used in degreasers, cleaners, aerosol paints and adhesives. Both E-series glycol ethers and P-series glycol ethers can be used as intermediates that undergo further chemical reactions, producing glycol diethers and glycol ether acetates. P-series glycol ethers are marketed as having lower toxicity than the E-series. Most glycol ethers are water-soluble, biodegradable and only a few are considered toxic.
Glycol ether solvents
- Ethylene glycol monomethyl ether (2-methoxyethanol, CH3OCH2CH2OH)
- Ethylene glycol monoethyl ether (2-ethoxyethanol, CH3CH2OCH2CH2OH)
- Ethylene glycol monopropyl ether (2-propoxyethanol, CH3CH2CH2OCH2CH2OH)
- Ethylene glycol monoisopropyl ether (2-isopropoxyethanol, (CH3)2CHOCH2CH2OH)
- Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (2-butoxyethanol, CH3CH2CH2CH2OCH2CH2OH), a widely used solvent in paintings and surface coatings, cleaning products and inks
- Ethylene glycol monophenyl ether (2-phenoxyethanol, C6H5OCH2CH2OH)
- Ethylene glycol monobenzyl ether (2-benzyloxyethanol, C6H5CH2OCH2CH2OH)
- Propylene glycol methyl ether, (1-methoxy-2-propanol, CH3OCH2CH(OH)CH3)
- Diethylene glycol monomethyl ether (2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethanol, methyl carbitol, CH3OCH2CH2OCH2CH2OH)
- Diethylene glycol monoethyl ether (2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethanol, carbitol cellosolve, CH3CH2OCH2CH2OCH2CH2OH)
- Diethylene glycol mono-n-butyl ether (2-(2-butoxyethoxy)ethanol, butyl carbitol, CH3CH2CH2CH2OCH2CH2OCH2CH2OH)
- Dipropyleneglycol methyl ether
- C12-15 pareth-12 a polyethylene glycol ether used as an emulsifier in cosmetics
- Ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (dimethoxyethane, CH3OCH2CH2OCH3), a higher boiling alternative to diethyl ether and THF, also used as a solvent for polysaccharides, a reagent in organometallic chemistry and in some electrolytes of lithium batteries
- Ethylene glycol diethyl ether (diethoxyethane, CH3CH2OCH2CH2OCH2CH3)
- Ethylene glycol dibutyl ether (dibutoxyethane, CH3CH2CH2CH2OCH2CH2OCH2CH2CH2CH3)
- Ethylene glycol methyl ether acetate (2-methoxyethyl acetate, CH3OCH2CH2OCOCH3)
- Ethylene glycol monoethyl ether acetate (2-ethoxyethyl acetate, CH3CH2OCH2CH2OCOCH3)
- Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate (2-butoxyethyl acetate, CH3CH2CH2CH2OCH2CH2OCOCH3)
- Propylene glycol methyl ether acetate (1-methoxy-2-propanol acetate)
- Union Carbide also registered "Cellosolve" as a trademark for "ETHYL SILICATES FOR USE AS BINDERS IN INVESTMENT CASTINGS AND IN ZINC-RICH PRIMERS" (Reg. Number 1019768, September 9, 1975), but let it expire
- Nicola Cherry; Harry Moore; Roseanne McNamee; Allan Pacey; Gary Burgess; Julie-Ann Clyma; Martin Dippnall; Helen Baillie; Andrew Povey (2008). "Occupation and male infertility: glycol ethers and other exposures". Occup. Environ. Med. 65 (10): 708–714. doi:10.1136/oem.2007.035824. PMID 18417551.
- Peter J Boogaard; Gerard M H Swaen (2008). "Letter to the editor on a recent publication titled "Occupation and male infertility: glycol ethers". Occup. Environ. Med. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24.