Butyl glycol is an organic solvent with a boiling point of 171-172°C. It is a clear, colourless liquid that is miscible in water and soluble in most organic solvents which smells like ether. Butyl glycol belongs to the family of primary alcohols. These are compounds comprising the primary alcohol functional group, with the general structure RCOH (R=alkyl, aryl). It is a relatively non-volatile, inexpensive solvent with modest surfactant properties. Butyl glycol has many names including 2-butoxyethanol, ethylene glycol, monobutyl ether, ethylene glycol butyl ether, ethylene glycol, n-butyl ether, butyl cellusolve, and butyl oxitol.
The more common method of production is the treatment of butyl alcohol with ethylene oxide. Ethylene glycol ethers are manufactured in a closed, continuous process by reacting ethylene oxide with an anhydrous alcohol in the presence of a suitable catalyst.
Butyl glycol is an excellent coalescent for water based latex paints and “tail” solvent for solvent-borne lacquers and thermoset coatings. It is used as a solvent in surface coatings such as spray lacquers, quick dry lacquers, enamels, varnishes, thinners, varnish removers and resins. It is especially recommended for paints for brush application based on cellulose nitrate, chlorinated binders or cellulose ethers. When butyl glycol is applied to dry coatings, it softens them very slowly.
Butyl glycol is also used as an essential degreaser for industrial and household detergents. Butyl glycol is also used in liquid soaps. The emulsifying properties of soap are improved when it is included in the formulation as a mutual solvent for soluble mineral oils.
In the petroleum industry, butyl glycol is a component of fracturing fluids, drilling stabilizers, and oil slick dispersants for both water-based and oil-based hydraulic fracturing. When liquid is pumped into the well, the fracturing fluids are pumped under extreme pressure, so butyl glycol is used to stabilize them by lowering the surface tension.
It is used in industrial cleaner because of its coupling ability, wetting properties, and high flash point. Butyl glycol is used in water based industrial cleaners, as a component of alkaline rust and paint removers, and as hard surface cleaners.
In the textile industry, butyl glycol is used as a dye component to prevent spotting during fabric printing and dyeing