Although it may sound like just another strange chemical to someone without a scientific background, hexane is a very popular and familiar solvent to many industrial and laboratory workers. This non-polar organic solvent, which is derived from crude oils like petroleum, is present in many laboratories around the world because of its reputation as the ideal non-polar solvent for organic synthesis reactions.
To learn more about this extremely popular solvent, then read on.
Hexane is widely used in various industries because of its versatility and its desirable properties:
- Low boiling point
- Low solubility
- Low surface tension
- Relatively inexpensive
- Easy evaporation
- Easy oil recovery
- Easily accessible
Industrial Uses for Hexane
At the industrial level, the solvent is used for a variety of applications.
The most common use of this chemical compound is for the extraction of edible oils from seeds or vegetables, such as:
Instead of pure hexane, oil extraction typically utilizes a mixture of hexane isomers. This process involves mixing the seeds/vegetables with the solvent and later evaporating the solvent, leaving behind the desired edible oil. Solvent extraction is seen as an eco-friendly and cost-efficient method, compared to traditional extraction methods like pressing.
Product Formulation & Manufacturing
Aside from oil extraction, hexane is also used as a solvent for rubber cement, adhesives, varnishes, printing inks, and stamp pad inks.
This compound is also used in the manufacturing of:
- Paint thinners
- Shoe glues
- Leather products
- Roofing materials
This compound is also commonly utilized as an industrial cleaning and degreasing chemical, especially in the printing, military, and aerospace industries. This is mostly because of its strong degreasing properties that enable it to effectively break down grease and oils.
One fun fact about this compound is that it is also used as a liquid in low temperature thermometers!
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