Toluene is an organic solvent. Also known as phenylmethane, this substance is water-insoluble. While it has many modern industrial uses, it has also been used illegally as an inhalant.
The molecular formula for this compound consists of seven carbon atoms and eight hydrogen atoms. They are arranged in the usual carbon ring. There are alternating double bonds and a methyl group attached. Phenylmethane boils at 111 degrees Celsius.
Like other solvents, this compound is used as a paint thinner. Industry uses it for the dealkylization of benzene and in gasoline to boost the level of octane. The most recent developments have allowed scientists to use phenylmethane in the production of carbon nanotubes.
The substance is toxic and should not be inhaled in anything beyond very low levels. However, it is less toxic than another solvent, benzene, which is also a carcinogen. This has led to the slow replacement of benzene with phenylmethane in many applications.