Diethyl ether

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A volatile, sweet smelling liquid that was formerly used as an anesthetic. Commonly known as ether, diethyl ether is a strong solvent that dissolves most oils, fats, waxes, and polymers. Although listed in earlier references and recipes for etching grounds and removing wax, ether is no longer used because of its hazards.

Synonyms and Related Terms

ether; ethyl ether; ethoxyethane; sulfuric ether; ethyloxide; diethyl oxide


  • Highly flammable. Forms explosive peroxides.
  • Nervous system depressant by inhalation or skin absorption.
  • Millipore Sigma: SDS
  • EPA lists diethyl ether as hazardous waste; concentrations over 10% must be disposed of appropriately

Physical and Chemical Properties

Miscible in ethanol, chloroform, benzene, naphtha and oils. Slightly soluble in water.

Composition (C2H5)2O
CAS 60-29-7
Melting Point -116.3 C
Density 0.7147 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 74.1
Refractive Index 1.352
Boiling Point 34.6 C


Properties of Common Solvents

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: ref. index=1.352

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