Imagine an employee at a company tasked to find the best chemical solvents for a new project. He quickly searches some products online, but the endless options soon overwhelm him. What does what and what do these names mean?
Fortunately, we’ve got his back.
Chemical solvents come in various forms with even more purposes. This article dives into the most common chemical solvents and what purposes they serve.
Read on for more!
What are Solvents?
Solvents refer to states of matter (solids, liquids, gases) that dissolve solutes. Solutes refer to smaller states of matter. Together, these form solutions.
It sounds complicated, but we rely on solvents every day. For example, we regard water as the universal solvent since it can dissolve the most substances out of all other liquids.
Aside from water, we find solvents in dry-cleaning, pharmaceuticals, beauty products, and more.
We often reference solvents with their scientific names so others can quickly identify them. Health and user applications typically accompany solvents in resources like this guide.
Learn about some common chemical solvents down below!
Organic solvents base themselves on carbon. We find these solvent types in perfumes, detergents, and disinfectants. Organic solvents either dissolve more solute to create solutions or help extract one substance from another.
That sounds convenient for the previously mentioned applications.
As such, we spot these solvents across industries under names like acetone. They remove nail polish in this case.
Organic solvents also share a few traits. They vaporize easily, which causes them to smell. Acetone’s distinct scent exemplifies this.
Inorganic solvents lack carbons. Water quickly comes to mind.
Yet, industries more commonly use inorganic non-aqueous solvents. Non-aqueous excludes water. Thus, solvents like ammonia or sulfuryl chloride take the cake.
These solvents require more specialized conditions. Scientists use them more in research/laboratory settings.
We must remember that solvents cause chemical reactions that can harm us. Hence, industries follow safety protocols for proper storage and handling. These include:
- Appropriate labeling (chemical name/hazard level)
- Spill protection and containment (spill trays)
- Proper ventilation
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Flame-resistant cabinets for flammable solvents
- Sealed containers
Solvents may irreparably damage our health. Our skin can absorb them, then spread them to other organs. Solvents may cause blindness if contact occurs with the eyes.
We can develop respiratory and lung issues if we fail to wear masks. Solvents can explode if we misplace flammable substances.
Mistakes happen, so industries implement such measures to keep us as safe as possible.
Chemical Solvents and Their Role in Our Lives
Overall, chemical solvents have become highly valuable, versatile, and functional. They make our lives easier and help advance science. As such, we utilize countless solvents to optimize their worth.
That said, they also come with safety hazards. We must practice due diligence and use them responsibly to ensure a peaceful, integral coexistence.
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