Xylene is used as a solvent. In this application, with a mixture of isomers, it is often referred to as xylenes or xylol. Areas of application include the printing, rubber, and leather industries. It is a common component of ink, rubber, and adhesives. In thinning paints and varnishes, it can be substituted for toluene where slower drying is desired, and thus is used by conservators of art objects in solubility testing. Similarly it is a cleaning agent, e.g., for steel, silicon wafers, and integrated circuits. In dentistry, xylene can be used to dissolve gutta percha, a material used for endodontics (root canal treatments). In the petroleum industry, xylene is also a frequent component of paraffin solvents, used when the tubing becomes clogged with paraffin wax. For similar reasons, it is often the active ingredient in commercial products for ear wax removal.

Laboratory use

Xylene is used in the laboratory to make baths with dry ice to cool reaction vessels, and as a solvent to remove synthetic immersion oil from the microscope objective in light microscopy. In histology, xylene is the most widely used clearing agent. Xylene is used to remove paraffin from dried microscope slides prior to staining. After staining, microscope slides are put in xylene prior to mounting with a coverslip.

Precursor to other compounds

Although conversion to terephthalic acid is the dominant chemical conversion, xylenes are precursors to other chemical compounds. For instance chlorination of both methyl groups gives the corresponding xylene dichlorides (bis(chloromethyl)benzenes) whilst mono-bromination yields xylyl bromide.


PropertiesUnitSpec 1Spec 2Spec 3Test Method
P – Xylene%Wt99.7 Min99.7 min99.7 minASTM D 3798
O – Xylene%Wt0.9 Max0.1 max0.1 maxASTM D 3798
M – Xylene%Wt0.19 Max0.3 max0.25 maxASTM D 3798
Non – Aromatic%Wt0.01 Max0.2 max0.2 maxASTM D 3798
Benzene + Toluene%Wt0.01 Max0.03 maxASTM D 3798
Toluene%Wt0.1 maxASTM D 3798
Ethylbenzene%Wt0.15 Max0.5 max0.3 maxASTM D 3798
Total Sulfurppm (wt)1.0 Max1.0 max1 maxASTM D 5453
Organic Chlorideppm (wt)1.0 Max1 maxASTM D5808
Acid Wash Color1.0 Max1 maxASTM D 848
SO2/ H2S ContentnilFreeFreeASTM D 853
Distillation Range°C1.0 Max20 max including 138.3138.4 ± 2 maxASTM D 850
ColorPt – Co10.0 Max20 max 20 maxASTM D 1209
Sp – GR @ 15.56 °C /15.56°C0.858 – 0.8750.865 – 0.8670.8650 – 0.8661ASTM D 4052
Vapor pressurepsi0.3ASTM D 323-99A
AppearanceClear Liquid free of Sedimentation or haze & 18.3 to 25.6 °CClear liquid free of sedimentation or haze at 18.3 to 25.6°CColorless ClearVisual

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PropertiesUnitSpecificationTest Method
Purity%Wt98.0 minUOP 744-86
Non aromatics%Wt0.5 maxASTM 2360-82
Benzene plus C9 and heavier aromatics%Wt1.0 maxUOP 744-86
Ortho, Meta & Para Xylene plus Toluene plus Ethylbenzene%Wt98.5 minUOP 744-86
Distillation range @760 mm Hg°C2.0 max including 144.4ASTM D 850-79
Total Sulfurppm (wt)1.0 maxASTM D 4045-87
ColorPt-Co20 maxASTM D 1209-84
AcidityNone detectedASTM D 847-87
Hydrocarbon residue after evaporationppm (wt)20 maxASTM D 1353-86
SO2 / H2SNone detectedASTM D 853-82
Vapor Pressurepsi0.3ASTM D 323-99A
Specific Gravity at 15.56/15.56 °C0.88 – 0.89ASTM D 4052-86

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Mix Xylene

PropertiesUnitSpec 1Spec 2Test Method
Non aromatics%Wt3.0 max0.1 maxASTM D 2360-82
Distillation range @760 mm HG°C10.0 max5 maxASTM D 850-79
Initial Boiling point @760 mm Hg°C135 min137 minASTM D 850-79
Dry point @760 mm Hg°C145 max143 maxASTM D 850-79
AppearanceClear liquid free of sedimentation or haze at 18.3 to 25.6 °CClear free of Haze/sedimentVISUAL
Copper corrosionpass (1a to 1b)No. 1aASTM D 849-88
ColorPt-Co20 max10 maxASTM D 1209-84
Acid wash color6 max2 maxASTM D 848-81
AcidityNone detectedNo Free AcidASTM D 847-87
Specific Gravity at 15.56/15.56 °C0.865 – 0.877To be ReportedASTM D 4052-86
SO2 / H2SNone detectedFreeASTM D 853-82
Vapor Pressurepsi0.1ASTM D 323-99A/td>
Para-xylene%Wt16 minD-2306
Ortho-xylene%Wt16 minD-2306
Ethyl Benzene%Wt18.5 maxD-2306
Meth- xylene%Wt49 maxD-2306
Benzene%Wt0.005 maxD-2360
Toluene%Wt0.04 maxD-2360
C9 Aromatics%Wt0.5 maxD-2360
Total Sulfurppm (wt)1 maxUOP 727
Total Chloridesppm (wt)1 maxIP-AK/81
Bromine Indexmg/100g20 maxIP-129 (MODIFIED)