Dioxane: Properties, Uses, and Hazards
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Dioxane is a heterocyclic organic compound also known as 1,4-Dioxane, 1,4-Dioxacyclohexane, p-Dioxane, diethylene dioxide, or diethylene ether. CAS Number and chemical formula of dioxane are 123-91-1 and C4H8O2 respectively. Scientists classify the substance as ether. The name itself particularly refers to 1,4-Dioxane, since the other two 1,2- and 1,3-Dioxane isomers occur rarely.

General Properties

The chemical is a colorless liquid with a sweet pleasant odor that resembles diethyl ether. It is slightly denser than water and dissolves in it easily. The substance tends to form vapors that are heavier than air. The other characteristics of this compound are as follows:

  • molar mass: 88.11 g·mol−1,
  • melting point: 11.8 °C,
  • boiling point: 101.1 °C,
  • density: 1.033 g/mL,
  • freezing point: 11.6667 °C.

Dioxane structure is centrosymmetric. It resembles a small Crown ether with two ethyleneoxyl units.

The chemical is commercially produced by acid-catalyzed dehydration and ring closure of diethylene glycol. Vaporized dioxane passes through an acid trap and the distillation columns to eliminate water and to purify the substance. The whole process is rather continuous.

Applications

Dioxane has a broad variety of uses. It serves as a stabilizer for 1,1,1-trichloroethane in order to store and transport the latter in aluminium containers. The chemical is also widely applied as a protic solvent. It can solvate a lot of inorganic compounds and may serve as a chelating diether ligand. In certain processes, it is able to substitute tetrahydrofuran, due to its higher boiling point and lower toxicity. Besides, the compound is used in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy as an internal standard.

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Hazards

This compound is considered as a substance of high toxicity. It may cause serious irritations to human tissues, and even its vapor is harmful if inhaled. Prolonged or repeated exposure to the chemical damages organs and is suspected of causing cancer.

Both liquid and vapor are extremely flammable. Vapor is heavier than air and can easily travel to the source of fire and flash back.

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