Alcohols are a class of organic chemical compounds containing a hydroxyl group (-OH), making them polar solvents which have good solubility for a wide range of inorganic and organic soils. The lighter alcohols are soluble in water and may be useful in drying operations. Common alcohol solvents are methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, n-butanol, isooctanol, methyl isobutyl carbinol, isoamyl alcohol, isobutyl alcohol, cyclohexanol, methyl cyclohexanol. Alcohols are also used extensively as base materials for further processing into other chemicals such as esters.
The alcohols are versatile solvents. Because they are slightly polar, they tend to be good, general purpose solvents for nonpolar hydrocarbons, polar organic compounds, and even ionic compounds. Methyl alcohol is a strongly toxic material used in glass cleaners, ethyl and isopropyl alcohols are commonly used in cleaners, antiseptic solutions, liquid soaps and for spot cleaning and touch-up applications. Ethyl and isopropyl alcohols are fully miscible in water. Benzyl alcohol is a good solvent for some organic films or proteineceous residue and mixtures of benzyl alcohol and benzoic acid also are used for solvent cleaning applications. Furfuryl alcohol is used as a general cleaning solvent and paint softener. n-butyl alcohol is a solvent for fats, waxes, resins, shellac, varnish, and gums.
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