What is n-Butanol? Uses and chemical properties

n-Butanol is a colourless liquid that has a very characteristic strong odour. Its manufacturing process is quite complex, especially when it comes to health risks. It’s also known as Butyl Alcohol.

n-Butanol is found in its natural state, a product of fermentations of some foods and fruits that contain sugars.

Chemical properties of n-Butanol

Its chemical properties are shared with the same group of alcohols, with n-Butanol being highly flammable, colourless and with a strong characteristic odour, very similar to Isopropyl Alcohol for domestic use.

It has very broad melting and boiling points: 117°C to boil and -80°C to melt. This property of alcohols is beneficial for the production of certain chemicals that are required to cool an entire system.

The toxicity of n-Butanol is higher than any of its counterparts, such as sec-Butanol, tert-Butanol or Isobutanol.

Frequent uses of n-Butanol

n-Butanol has the same use as the rest of its chemical group. Alcohols work as an intermediary for chemical reactions in industry, being used as a solvent and dehydrating agent.

An important use in industry is in the manufacture of paraffin, as well as other detergent-type products and chemical reagents.

Its industrial use includes:

  • Solvent for paints, natural resins or other products derived from oils.
  • Various intermediate reactions in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals.
  • As an intermediate product used to obtain other chemical compounds.
  • The manufacture of herbicides and other essential agrochemicals for agriculture.

Only direct contact with n-Butanol irritates the mucous membranes. It’s a substance that is considered harmful, especially if you have sensitive skin. Inhalation intoxication makes breathing difficult, causes coughing and generates an anaesthetic effect, to the point of appearing lightheaded.