Butyl lactate

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A colorless, stable, low volatility liquid. Butyl lactate is used as a solvent for paints, synthetic lacquers, varnishes, oils, dyes, inks, and resin synthetic resins. It is usually blended with other solvents to slow evaporation and increase drying times. Butyl lactate has also been used as a solvent for acetate polyvinyl acetate based paints. Toch used small amounts of butyl lactate mixed with (oil) turpentine for cleaning paintings (Toch 1931).

Synonyms and Related Terms

n-butyl lactate

Chemical structure

Butyl lactate.jpg

Other Properties

Miscible with most oils and organic solvents. Slightly soluble in water. Hydrolyzed with acids or alkalis.

Composition CH3CHOHCOOC4H9
CAS 138-22-7
Melting Point -43
Density 0.974-0.984
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 146.19
Refractive Index 1.4216
Boiling Point 188

Hazards and Safety

Combustible liquid and vapor. Flash point = 71 C. Toxic. Contact causes irritation

Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Additional Information

M. Toch, Paint, Paintings and Restoration, D.Van Nostrand, New York, 1931.


  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • R. Mayer, R. Mayer, The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques, Viking Press, New York, 1981
  • Ralph Mayer, Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Richard S. Lewis, Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993

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