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7 Common Uses of Diethyl Ether

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There are more than 16,000,000 organic compounds in the world! Some of them are more useful than others. One very common and very useful organic compound you use just about every day, in your refrigerator, perfumes, and plastics. It’s called diethyl ether.

Keep reading below to learn more about this chemical.

What is Diethyl Ether?

A byproduct of ethanol synthesis, diethyl ether is a colorless liquid. It is part of the organic compound family, has an almost sickly, sweet odor, and is highly flammable.

Safety First

Diethyl ether is highly flammable and a known irritant. Keep it away from your skin, eyes, and clothes. If not stored properly diethyl ether can cause explosions and leaks. For more safety precautions, read about here.

Diethyl Ether Uses

Diethyl ethers are used in all sorts of applications from making plastics to solvents in perfume production. Here are 7 of the most common diethyl ether uses.

1) Solvent

A solvent is a substance that can dissolve other substances. For example, water would be a solvent for salt or sugar. Diethyl ether is used as a solvent for a whole host of otherwise difficult-to-dissolve substances.

Diethyl ether can dissolve waxes, fats, oils, dyes, and resin making it a highly useful solvent. It can also dissolve plastics

2) Refrigerant

When diethyl ether evaporates or becomes a gas, it produces a cooling effect. This lends itself perfectly to use in refrigeration, freezers, and air conditioners.

3) Starting Fluid

Diethyl ether is highly volatile. This means it vaporizes easily. This quality makes diethyl ether a great starter fluid for gasoline and diesel engines. It works especially well in cold climates where a vehicle may have to start in freezing temperatures.

4) Cure for Hiccups

Believe it or not, diethyl ether has been shown to be an effective cure for hiccups. Hiccups are involuntary spasms of the diaphragm. Diethyl ether works as a muscle relaxant in the diaphragm and cures the spasms.

5) Recreational Drug

Diethyl ether can be inhaled or drank to produce intoxication. The effects of ether use are similar to those of alcohol, although may also include euphoria and auditory or visual hallucinations, especially at higher doses.

6) Anesthetic

Although no longer used in developed countries, diethyl ether has anesthetic qualities. As an anesthetic, this ether does little to lessen cardiac output or respiration, making it effective and safe.

It is more affordable than its modern counterparts and is therefore still used in developing countries. However, it is associated with the unpleasant side effects of nausea, vomiting, liver damage, and convulsions. This has led diethyl ether to be replaced by non-flammable halogenated ether anesthetics, like isoflurane.

7) Paint Thinner

Diethyl ether is found in many paint thinners. This is because of its solvent properties. Where water cannot break down heavy paints, ether can. Remember diethyl ether is highly flammable, so be sure to store your paint thinners appropriately.

Check it Out

Can you find more than these 7 uses for diethyl ether? It is used in lots more ways than just what’s listed here.

For more interesting content like this, check out some of our other posts.

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