Xylene is a clear, colorless, sweet-smelling solution of three aromatic hydrocarbon isomers produced from crude oil through a process called alkylation. Xylene consists of three distinct isomers: paraxylene, orthoxylene and metaxylene. Xylene is both naturally occurring and manmade, and is widely used as a solvent in the leather, rubber, and printing industries. Other applications of xylene include chemical intermediates, and high-motor and aviation gasoline blending agents. Xylene is also used in breathing devices (inhalers) for administering artificial respiration because of its intoxicating properties.
Xylene is a raw material in the production of a monomer (a simple compound with molecules that join to form polymers) called terephthalic acid. Terephthalic acid is used in the manufacture of polymers (naturally occurring or synthetic compounds consisting of large molecules). It is a good cleaning agent for silicon wafers and steel. It is also used to sterilize many substances. Xylene is used as a feedstock in the production of petrol. It is also found in small proportions in gasoline and jet fuel.
It is extensively used as a thinner and solvent in paints, varnishes, adhesives and inks. A Xylene mixture can be used to thin lacquers (a black resinous substance used a natural varnish) when slower drying is desired. Xylene is often used as a solvent in pesticides products.
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