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Should Toluene be clear or cloudy white?

  1. Jun 16, 2008 #1
    I have very little background in chemistry.
    A clear sample of toluene was poured into a non sealed bottle and after several hours it turned cloudy white.
    Is this normal?
    Why does this happen?
    It is still a clean solution of toluene right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2008 #2


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    It shouldn't, there is some contamination. Was the bottle dry?
  4. Jun 17, 2008 #3
    Or the bottle was not dry (or contained something that mixed with toluene) or the liquid has absorbed humidity from air.
  5. Jun 17, 2008 #4

    The bottle was rinsed out with distilled water but not thoroughly dried. It sits in a near dust-free environment where temperature and humidity are controlled. The bottle had no previous chemical substance in it. Not for >3 years that I know off.
  6. Jun 18, 2008 #5
    So it could be the little amount of water still present in the bottle after rinsing out.
  7. Jun 18, 2008 #6
    really?? distilled water can be a contaminant?
  8. Jun 18, 2008 #7
    Yes, water can be a contaminant. Given that toluene's solubility in water is quite minimal, even a tiny bit of water can serve as a contaminant. Many organic solvents - including toluene - are typically sold as "dry" solvents (water-free or nearly so), since even a small amount can screw up someone's work.
  9. Jun 18, 2008 #8
    Let's see - is water a chemical?
  10. Jun 20, 2008 #9


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    I'm not quite certain if water and toluene would mix to form a suspension you might want to observe a mixture without stirring it ; should find two immiscible phases. From my experience a small amount of water in certain organic substances forms a cloudy suspension with stirring ; at times at 2% however it should be higher for toluene. Surfactants can cause reverse miscelle formation with water and toluene also.
  11. Jun 20, 2008 #10
    I think I found the cause of the problem (along with water). The toluene was sandwiched between two transparent pieces of plastic. Apparently you can't place these chemicals on plastic due to some effect? The plastic turned all opaque and "cloudy white".
  12. Jun 20, 2008 #11


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    Staff: Mentor

    Toluene is a pretty good solvent, it will penetrate many plastics and it will dissolve them to some extent.
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