Butyl carbitol CH32CH2CH2(OCH2CH2)2OH is a colorless, flammable, hygroscopic, odorless liquid. It is fully miscible in water and most organic solvents such as alcohols, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, benzene, toluene and so on. Aliphatic hydrocarbons have a low solubility in butyl carbitol.
As a n-butyl diethylene glycol ether butyl carbitol possess both alcohol and glycol chemical properties. It reacts with alkali metals releasing hydrogen to give corresponding salts. It can be also esterified by action of carboxilic or inorganic acids. Being treated with ethylene oxide in the presence of alkaline catalysts butyl carbitol gives butyl ethers of higher polyethylene glycols.
Butyl carbitol is a toxic compound, but its poisonous effect is less than it is of lower carbitols. Its toxisity is similar to glycols action. The result of ingestion is central nervous system and kidney injury.
Industrially butyl carbitol is produced by the reaction of n-butanol with ethylene oxide in the presence of sodium hydroxide NaOH as a catalyst:
CH3(CH2)3OH + 2(CH2CH2)O --> CH3(CH2)3(OCH2CH2)2OH
Resulting mixture consists of n-butyl ethers of mono-, di- and tri- ethylene glycols and can be separated by following rectification at low pressure.
as a high-boiling polar solvent;
as an effective extractive agent for mixtures separation;
as an odor fixative agent in perfumery;
as a feedstock for butyl diglyme (dibutyl ether of diethylene glycol) preparation, which is used for gold, uranium, thorium and other metals extraction;