Polyethylene glycol

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A water-soluble polymer available in a range of viscosities from a honey-like solution to a hard wax-like block. Polyethylene glycols are used commercially as solvents for dyes, natural resins, and proteins. They are also used as plasticizers for Casein, Gelatin, Glue, Zein, Cork, and inks. Carbowax® formulations have also been used to slowly replaced water in water-logged wood providing structural support while decreasing wetness. They, however, remain somewhat tacky and can retain dirt that darkens and discolors the artifact.

Synonyms and Related Terms

PEG; poly(oxyethylene); polyglycol; polyether glycol; Carbowax® [Union Carbide]; PEG [Shell Chemical]; Polyethylenglykol (Deut.); macrogol (Fr.); polyetylenglykol (Sven.); polietilenglicol (Esp.)


  • Combustible.
  • Non-toxic (used in many foods).
  • Cisco Chem: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Average molecular weights range from 200-6000
  • Soluble or miscible with water and most organic solvents.
  • Heat stable, inert, low vapor pressure.
Composition HOCH2(CH2OCH2)nCH2OH
CAS 25322-68-3


General Characteristics of Polymers

Physical Properties for Selected Thermoplastic Resins

Resources and Citations

  • 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
  • Wikipedia: dyeshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyethylene_glycol (Accessed Feb. 10, 2006)
  • Gordon Hanlon, contributed information, 1998