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A colorless natural gas with a sweet odor and taste. Ethylene is used as a starting material for many organic compounds and polymers, such as Polyethylene, Ethylene oxide, Ethylene glycol, and Polyvinyl acetate. It is also used with oxygen in oxyethylene welding and cutting of metals. Other applications include use as an anesthetic and as an agent to improve the color of citrus fruits.

Synonyms and Related Terms

ethene; elayl; olefiant gas; bicarburetted hydrogen


  • Extremely flammable and explosive.
  • Keep away from all flames, heat, and sparks.
  • Can act as asphyxiant due to displacement of oxygen
  • Airgas: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in acetone, benzene.

Composition C2H4
CAS 74-85-1
Melting Point -169.4 C
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 28.0
Boiling Point -102.4 C

Resources and Citations

  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Thomas Gregory, The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Reinhold Publishing, New York, 3rd ed., 1942
  • The Merck Index, Susan Budavari (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Whitehouse Station, NJ, 12th Edition, 1996 Comment: entry 3837
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997