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What are Organic Solvents

Organic Solvents are a profoundly important part of our daily lives. Starting from disinfectant treatments to removal of grease stains, organic solvents are used for a number of purposes. Perfumes, colognes, detergents and many other utility products are made with organic solvents. They are chemical compounds composed of carbon-based molecular structures. They contain at least one carbon atom along with some hydrogen atoms. Solvents are generally categorised based on their molecular structure into Natural and Synthetic Solvents. Natural solvents are those which are produced by living organisms, and Synthetic Solvents are those which are produced from chemical reactions between several organic compounds.  

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Types of Organic Solvents

There are various types of Organic Solvents. They are differentiated based on their structure and functional groups. 

The three basic types of Organic Solvents are as follows:

1. Aliphatics Solvent

These organic solvents belong to the group of alkenes. They do not contain benzene rings. They are said to be nonpolar. Aliphatic solvents are made by distilling crude oil in the appropriate boiling point. They are then treated to improve their colour and smell. These solvents are helpful in the extraction of oil, used in paints, dye, pharmaceuticals, and adhesives. 

2. Aromatic Solvents 

Aromatic Solvents like Aliphatics, are nonpolar. These, however, contain benzene ring structures like benzene, toluene etc. Aromatic Solvents have more odour than Aliphatics but due to their more solvency rate are better suited for industry solvents. These solvents are mainly utilised in automobiles, paints, coatings pharmaceuticals, adhesives etc. It is believed that almost 50% of aromatic solvents are required in paints and coatings industries.

3. Carbonyls Solvent

Carbonyl Solvents, unlike the other two, is said to be polar. These contain esters and used mainly in nail polish removers, glues, electronics cleaners, glues, circuit boards, food flavouring substances, etc. 

Properties of Organic Solvents

Organic solvents exhibit various properties. The properties of Organic Solvents are as follows:

1. Volatility

Organic Solvents are volatile. Volatile Solvents are those which have the property to vaporise. Organic solvents possess this property and are hence able to release smell when exposed to air.

2. Colour of Liquid

Organic Solvents are colourless in nature. They have low molecular weights.


3. The Boiling Point of Organic Solvents

The boiling point of organic solvents is shallow. It is due to this boiling point of organic solvents that they are so volatile. 

4. Dielectric Constant of Organic Solvents

Dielectric constant refers to the polarity of a substance. The higher the dielectric constant, the higher the polarity of the particular importance. The dielectric constant of organic solvents suggest that all organic solvents are polar; their constants determine just their degree of polarity. In general, the solvents with dielectric constants greater than five are considered as opposite, and those less than five are regarded as non-polar. 

5. The Density of Organic Solvents

The organic solvents density varies widely. Some organic solvents may be denser than water which is why they sink to the bottom. Other organic solvents might be less dense than water and will thus float on top. For example, Acetone has a density of 0.79gm/ml; benzene has a density of 0.88 gm/ml etc. 

Common Examples of Organic Solvents

Some of the most common examples of Organic Solvents are as follows- Acetone, Benzene, Acetic Acid, Carbon Tetrachloride, Chloroform, etc. 

Common Uses of Organic Solvents

Some of the most common solvents are paints, coatings, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives, glues and cleaning agents. They are also used in the production of dyes, agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, textiles plastics, printing inks, etc. 

Solved Examples

1. What is the Most Common Solvent?

Ans: The most common solvent is the “universal solvent,” i.e. water. Water is called the universal solvent because it helps to dissolve the most substances, more than any other liquid in the world. 

2. What are the Organic Solvents?

Ans: Organic solvents are generally carbon-based substances. Organic solvents have at least one carbon atom in their structure along with hydrogen atoms. Organic solutions usually are volatile with low boiling points.

3. What is a THF Solvent?

Ans: THF solvent refers to Tetrahydrofuran. THF is a stable solvent with a low boiling point and excellent solvency. It helps in the dissolution and reaction of various substances. THF is, however, a hazardous material. 

4. What is the Density of Common Solvents?

Ans: The density of common solvents varies widely. Some of them may be denser than water, or some of them may be less. They might sink in the bottom or float depending on the density. Some of the density of common solvents are 1.0446 (Acetic Acid), 0.7845(Acetone), 0.8765(Benzene), etc.

5. What is the High Boiling Point of Organic Solvents?

Ans: Organic Solvents generally have a low boiling point. However, Toluene has the highest boiling point at 111⁰ C.  

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Organic Solution?

Ans: Organic Solution or organic solvents are generally carbon-based substances. In chemistry, a solvent refers to any substance which is capable of dissolving other substances. Organic solvents have at least one carbon atom in their structure along with hydrogen atoms. Organic solutions are generally volatile with low boiling points. They may be apolar or polar based on their dielectric constants. Some common examples are Acetone, Benzene, TFH, Chloroform, Acetic Acid, etc. These organic solvents are mainly utilised in our day to day products like nail polish removers, paints, dyes, textiles, electronic cleaners etc. although incredibly useful. They can also be hazardous.

2. What are the Types of Solvents in Organic Chemistry?

Ans: The most common three types of solvents in organic chemistry are apolar, polar aprotic and polar protic. The polarity differentiation is done based on the dielectric constant of the solvents. Apolar or nonpolar solvents have low dielectric constants which refers to the electric charge between the molecules being evenly distributed. They are not acceptable solvents for charged elements like anions. Aprotic solvents contain a large bond dipole moment and do not include OH groups in them. They have a higher dielectric constant between 5 to 20. On the other hand, Polar Protic solvents contain an OH group with a nonpolar tail.