Toluene - C6H5CH3

What is Toluene?

Toluene is a clear, colourless liquid with a benzene-like odour. The chemical formula of toluene can be written as C6H5CH3.

Toluene is a naturally occurring compound derived primarily from petroleum or petrochemical processes. Toluene is a common component in gasoline, glues, and paint products. Toluene is a liquid, which is colourless, water-insoluble and smells like paint thinners. It is a mono-substituted colourless liquid, consisting of a CH3 group that is attached to a phenyl group. 

Table of Contents

Properties of Toluene

Toluene is more reactive to electrophiles than benzene. Due to the greater part of the methyl group than the electron-releasing properties, it reacts normal fragrant in the same position. It faces sulphonation to provide an acid called p-toluenesulfonic and chlorination by Cl2 in the presence of FeCl3 to give ortho and para isomers of chlorotoluene.

Chemical formula of Toluene C6H5CH3
Boiling point of Toluene 111 °C
Melting point of Toluene −95 °C
Density of Toluene 0.87 g/mL
Molecular weight of Toluene 92.141 g/mol

Toluene structure

Toluene structure

Toluene is widely used as an industrial raw material and a solvent for manufacturing many commercial products, including paints and glues.

Toluene Production

Toluene is naturally found in crude oil and as a by product in gasoline production. Also, it is obtained as a by product in coke production from coal.

Production of Toluene at the industrial level is inexpensive. It is synthesized in various methods. For example, the reaction of benzene with methyl chloride in the presence of aluminium chloride (Lewis acid) to give toluene:

C6H5H + CH3Cl → C6H5CH3 + HCl

Toluene Uses

Toluene is widely used as a precursor to benzene. The chemical equation for the reaction between toluene and hydrogen gas can be written as follows.

C6H5CH3 + H2 → C6H6 + CH4

While the second most used application involves a disproportionate to a mixture of benzene and xylene.

Toluene as a Precursor to Other Chemicals

Along with the synthesis of benzene and xylene, toluene is used in the manufacture of the following

  • Polyurethane foam
  • Trinitrotoluene – Explosive
  • TNT
  • Synthetic Drugs.

Toluene as a Solvent

Toluene is a common solvent used for the following:

  • Glues
  • Paints
  • Paint Thinners
  • Printing Ink
  • Rubber
  • Leather Tanners
  • Silicone Sealants
  • Chemical Reactants
  • Lacquers
  • Disinfectants.

Other Applications of Toluene

It can be used in internal combustion engines as gasoline fuel.

Niche Applications of Toluene

It is used as a solvent for carbon nanomaterials, nanotubes and fullerenes.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs


What is toluene used for?

Toluene is used as a solvent in many consumer products and is used in paint thinners, nail polish remover, glues, and correction fluid. Toluene has many applications in different branches of industry. The flammable, explosive compound known as TNT or trinitrotoluene is important in the explosives industry.

Is toluene soluble in water?

Toluene is not water- soluble. Toluene is made up of carbon and hydrogen, and its polarity is very small.

What does toluene smell like?

Toluene is an aromatic hydrocarbon derivative of methyl-substituted benzene, which exists as a transparent, colourless volatile liquid and has a pungent, benzene-like odour. Toluene is insoluble in water but may be miscible with other organic solvents.

What functional group is toluene?

Toluene is the simplest toluene member of the class consisting of a benzene core containing a single methyl substituent. It is a part of toluenes and methylbenzene, a volatile organic compound.

How many sigma bonds are in toluene?

The benzene ring comprises 12 sigma bonds and 3 pi bonds, and the substituent group, methyl, has 3 sigma bonds. Therefore, toluene (C6H5CH3) has 15 sigma bonds and 3 pi bonds.

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