Difference Between Diethyl Ether vs. Petroleum Ether

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Main Difference

Both these liquids are of massive importance in the field of industrial applications. With the similarity in the names of these liquids, most of the people think they are similar compounds. But actually they are different liquids with different usage. They can be differentiated as Petroleum Ether is mixture of hydrocarbon compounds, whereas Diethyl Ether is a pure organic liquid with the chemical formula CH3CH2OCH2CH3. Diethyl Ether is purely an organic liquid as it has an oxygen atom with carbons on either side, on the other hand, petroleum ether does not contain an ether linkage (-O-), and it is mixture of different hydrocarbon compounds such as pentane and hexane. The ‘ether’ in the name of petroleum ether makes people think that it is an ether but in real it does not contain ether linkage and it is formed with combination or mixing of different hydrocarbons.

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Comparison Chart

Diethyl EtherPetroleum Ether
Type & FormationDiethyl Ether is a pure organic liquid with the chemical formula CH3CH2OCH2CH3.Petroleum Ether is mixture of hydrocarbon compounds.
Ether LinkageDiethyl Ether is purely an organic liquid as it has an oxygen atom with carbons on either sides.Petroleum ether does not contain an ether linkage (-O-).
SolubilitySome ether or diethyl ether can be soluble in water.Petroleum ether is always insoluble in water.

What is Diethyl Ether?

Diethyl Ether is also known as the ether as it is the pure organic liquid with having an oxygen atom with carbons on either sides. The chemical and molecular formula of diethyl ether are CH3CH2OCH2CH3 and C4H10O respectively. Diethyl ether is a colorless, highly volatile flammable pure organic liquid that is most prominently used as solvent in the laboratories and also as a starting fluid for some of the engines. Ether is the organic compounds in which two alkyl groups, aryl groups, or an alkyl and an aryl group are connected to both side of an oxygen atom. In simpler words we can say that in formation of the diethyl ether, two ethyl groups (-CH2CH3) are linked through an oxygen atom (C2H5-O-C2H5). Diethyl Ether freezes at -116 degrees Celsius and boils at 35 degrees and it has a strong characteristic odour with a sweetish kind of taste and smell.

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What is Petroleum Ether?

People often think that petroleum ether is the other name used for diethyl ether, but actually it is not as petroleum ether is the mixture of different hydrocarbon compounds. The other surprising thing about the petroleum ether is that it does not contain ether linkage (-O-). The only reason behind the usage of the figurative term ether is to signify the extreme lightness and volatility of this compound made up of different hydrocarbon compounds. Petroleum ether is made up of aliphatic hydrocarbons and has boiling range in between 35‒60 °C. Benzin, benzine, petroleum benzin, canadol, light ligroin, and skellysolve are some of the other names used for petroleum ether. Petroleum ether is the product we get from the petroleum refining process. In between naphtha and kerosene, we get petroleum ether as the product of distillation process.

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Diethyl Ether vs. Petroleum Ether

  • Petroleum Ether is mixture of hydrocarbon compounds, whereas Diethyl Ether is a pure organic liquid with the chemical formula CH3CH2OCH2CH3.
  • Diethyl Ether is purely an organic liquid as it has an oxygen atom with carbons on either sides, on the other hand, petroleum ether does not contain an ether linkage (-O-).
  • The only reason behind the usage of the figurative term ‘ether’ in petroleum ether is to signify the extreme lightness and volatility of this compound.
  • Some ether or diethyl ether can be soluble in water, but petroleum ether is always insoluble in water.