Ethyl silicate

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A liquid silicate that hydrolyzes to form a colorless, transparent film of Silica. For application, ethyl silicate is dissolved in an anhydrous ethanol solution. Small amounts of water will cause the solution to gel. Once applied, moisture from the atmosphere initiates irreversible hydrolyzation producing a solid silica film in less than an hour. Ethyl silicate was introduced as a paint vehicle in England in 1931 for painting outdoor murals. It is used with Alkali and Acid resistant Fresco pigments. The silicate colors are durable and resistant to weathering. More recently, ethyl silicate has been used for consolidating, strengthening and weatherproofing Stone, mortars, and cements.

Chemical structure

Ethyl silicate.jpg

Synonyms and Related Terms

silicic acid tetraethyl ester; tetraethyl silicate; tetraethyl orthosilicate; tetraethoxysilane


  • Combustible. Flash point = 40.6 C
  • Irritant to nose, eyes, lungs, and skin.
  • ThermoFIsher: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Miscible in ethanol. Insoluble in water.

Composition (C2H5)4SiO4
CAS 78-10-4
Melting Point -77 C
Density 0.9356 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 208.33
Boiling Point 165-166 C

Resources and Citations

  • 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
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 3895
  • Paint in America, Robert Moss (ed.), John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1994 Comment: M.Phillips, "A Victorian Trompe l'Oeil"

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