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Cut paper on styrene board
MFA# 1992.206


A colorless, oily liquid, Styrene was first isolated from storax in 1831 by Bonastre. It readily self-polymerizes with heat, light or catalyst. The polymerization step is exothermic. Styrene is primarily used as an ingredient in polymers such as Polystyrene, Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS). It has also been used as a solvent in paints, lacquers and plastics. For example, it is used as a polymerizing solvent in Bio-Plastic® embedding resin.

Synonyms and Related Terms

vinylbenzene; cinnamene; phenylethylene; phenyl ethylene; ethenylbenzene; styrol; styrolene; cinnamol

Chemical structure



  • Flammable. Flash point = 31 C (88 F)
  • Ingestion, inhalation and contact cause irritation.
  • Carcinogenic.
  • ThermoFisher: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in ethanol, ether. Insoluble in water.

Composition C6H5CH=CH2
CAS 100-42-5
Melting Point -30.63 C
Density 0.9045 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt.=104.15
Refractive Index 1.545
Boiling Point 145.2 C

Resource and Citations

  • 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 9028
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 627
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • ASTM, "Standard Terminology Relating to Paint, Varnish, Lacquer and Related Products", Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Section 6, Paints, Related Coatings and Aromatics, ASTM, D16, 7-Jan, Jul-96
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979 Comment: flash point = 32C
  • M.Kaufman, The First Century of Plastics, The Plastics and Rubber Institute, London, 1963
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: ref. index=1.545