The key difference between petroleum benzene and petroleum ether is that petroleum benzene contains aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbon compounds whereas petroleum ether contains aliphatic hydrocarbons only.
Both terms petroleum benzene and petroleum ether are names that we use to describe solvents which do not necessarily contain benzene or ethers respectively. That means; these solvent get their names because of their properties, rather than their chemical compositions.
What is Petroleum Benzene?
Petroleum benzene, more precisely, petroleum benzene, is a mixture of hydrocarbons and it is very useful as a solvent. Importantly, this solvent is named according to its physical properties, rather than its chemical composition. Therefore, the name Petroleum benzene indicates that it is a petroleum fraction which has benzene in it; however, this is not necessarily true. The solvent is named as such because it has the properties of benzene such as toxicity, odour; and it may contain benzene as well.
Moreover, this solvent mainly contains paraffin, cycloparaffins, aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene. We can obtain this solvent by treating a petroleum fraction with hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst. The hydrocarbon compounds in this solvent have carbon atoms in the range of 4 to 11. Furthermore, its boiling point is in the range of -20°C to 190°C.
What is Petroleum Ether?
Petroleum ether is a solvent consisting of different aliphatic hydrocarbons as a mixture. The boiling point of this petroleum fraction is in the range of 35‒60 °C. However, though its name indicates that this solvent has ethers, we do not classify it as an ether compound because we name this solvent as such only because it has properties that are similar to ethers.
Besides, this solvent is mostly used as a laboratory solvent. Since this compound is a mixture of different compounds, the major fractions of this mixture are pentane and hexane. That means; it mainly consists of carbon and hydrogen atoms.
Petroleum ether is a colourless liquid, and the fumes of this solvent have a gasoline-like odour. The fumes are flammable, and it can produce a large enough vapour to make a fire hazard at low temperatures. Therefore, we should handle this chemical carefully.
What is the Difference Between Petroleum Benzene and Petroleum Ether?
Petroleum benzene or petroleum benzine is a mixture of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons whereas Petroleum ether is a mixture of aliphatic hydrocarbons. Therefore, this is the key difference between Petroleum Benzene and Petroleum Ether. When considering the hydrocarbon content in each solvent, petroleum benzene mainly contains paraffin, cycloparaffins, and aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene while petroleum ether contains mainly pentane and hexane. So, this is also a difference between Petroleum Benzene and Petroleum Ether.
Moreover, a further difference between Petroleum Benzene and Petroleum Ether is their boiling point; the boiling point of petroleum benzene is -20°C to 190°C whereas boiling point of petroleum ether is 35‒60 °C.
Summary – Petroleum Benzene vs Petroleum Ether
Both petroleum benzene and petroleum ether are solvents that are very useful. Despite their chemical compositions, these compounds are named as such depending on their physical properties; for example, petroleum benzene has properties similar to benzene, but it may or may not contain benzene. Similarly, petroleum ether is actually not an ether. However, it has properties of ether. The key difference between petroleum benzene and petroleum ether is that petroleum benzene contains aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbon compounds whereas petroleum ether contains aliphatic hydrocarbons only.
1. “Petroleum Benzine.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Feb. 2019, Available here.
2. Judge, Michael. “Differences Between Petroleum Ether & Diethyl Ether.” Sciencing, 2 Mar. 2019, Available here.