Petroleum Spirit

Synonyms: Benzyna; Éter de petróleo; Light Petroleum; Petroleum Benzin; Petroleum Ether; Solvent Hexane.
Cyrillic synonym: Бензин; Петролейный Эфир.

💊 Chemical information


Petroleum spirit is a purified distillate of petroleum, consisting of a mixture of the lower members of the paraffin series of hydrocarbons. It is a colourless, transparent, very volatile, highly flammable liquid with a characteristic odour. It is available in a variety of boiling ranges.


In Ger., Jpn., and Pol. Various boiling ranges are specified. Swiss describes Benzinum Medicinale, consisting mainly of hexane and heptane. The motor fuel termed ‘petrol’ in the UK and ‘gasoline’ in the USA is a mixture of volatile hydrocarbons of variable composition containing paraffins (alkanes), olefins (alkenes), cycloparaffins, and aromatic compounds.

💊 Adverse Effects and Treatment

As for Kerosene. Petroleum spirit and petrol, being more volatile and of lower viscosity than kerosene, are more likely to be inhaled and to cause aspiration pneumonitis. The toxicity of petrol varies with its composition; some adverse effects have been attributed to lead additives or to the content of n-hexane or benzene. Petrol may be implicated in volatile solvent abuse. For discussion of neurotoxicity after occupational exposure to solvents including petrol, see under Toluene.
1. WHO. Selected petroleum products. Environmental Health Criteri
20. Geneva: WHO, 1982. Available at: http:// (accessed 30/06/04
2. Daniels AM, Latcham RW. Petrol sniffing and schizophrenia in a Pacific island paradise. Lancet 1984; i: 389
3. Eastwell HD. Elevated lead levels in petrol "sniffers". Med J Aust 1985; 143 (suppl): S63–4.

💊 Uses

Petroleum spirit and other petroleum distillates are used as pharmaceutical solvents.
Published November 25, 2018.