Toluene is a colorless, water-insoluble liquid with the smell associated with paint thinners. It is a mono-substituted benzene derivative, consisting of a CH3 group attached to a phenyl group. As such, its IUPAC systematic name is methylbenzene. It is an aromatic hydrocarbon.

  • Toluene is mainly used as a precursor to benzene via hydrodealkylation:
  • The second ranked application involves its disproportionation to a mixture of benzene and xylene. When oxidized it yields benzaldehyde and benzoic acid, two important intermediates in chemistry.
  • In addition to the synthesis of benzene and xylene, toluene feedstock for toluene diisocyanate (used in the manufacture of polyurethane foam), trinitrotoluene (the explosive, TNT), and a number
  • Toluene is a common solvent, e.g. for paints, paint thinners, silicone sealants, many chemical reactants, rubber, printing ink, adhesives (glues), lacquers, leather tanners, and disinfectants.
  • Toluene can be used as an octane booster in gasoline fuels for internal combustion engines.
  • Toluene is one of a group of fuels that have recently included in jet fuel surrogate blends. Toluene is used as a jet fuel surrogate for its content of aromatic compounds.
  • In the laboratory, toluene is used as a solvent for carbon nanomaterials, including nanotubes and fullerenes, and it can also be used as a fullerene indicator.
PropertiesUnitSpecificationTest Method
Purity%Wt99.90 minASTM D 2360-82
Non aromatics%Wt0.10 maxASTM D 2360-82
Benzene%Wt0.1 maxASTM D 2360-82
Distillation range @760 mm Hg°C1.0 max including 110.6ASTM D 850-79
AppearanceClear liquid free of sedimentation or haze at 18.3 to 25.6 °CVISUAL
Total Sulfurppm (wt)1.0 maxASTM D 4045-87
Copper corrosionPass (1a to 1b)ASTM D 849-88
ColorPt-Co20 maxASTM D 1209-84
Acid wash color2 maxASTM D 848-81
AcidityNone detectedASTM D 847-87
Specific Gravity at 15.56/15.56 °C0.869 – 0.873ASTM D 4052-86
SO2 / H2SNone detectedASTM D 853-82
Vapor Pressurepsi1.1ASTM D 323-99A