Is Benzene Soluble in Water? (+ 3 Things You Should Know)

Benzene is generally considered insoluble in water. 1 Benzene is insoluble in water due to the significant difference in polarity between the nonpolar benzene molecule and the polar water molecules. However, benzene is soluble in nonpolar solvents like ether or hexane. 2

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s dive right into it.

Key Takeaways: Is Benzene Soluble in Water?

  • Benzene is generally considered insoluble in water due to its nonpolar nature and weak interactions with polar water molecules.
  • The solubility of benzene in water is relatively low, around 1.8 grams per liter at room temperature.
  • Benzene is soluble in nonpolar or weakly polar solvents like hexane, toluene, diethyl ether, chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride.

Why is Benzene considered insoluble in water?

Benzene is considered insoluble in water due to its unique molecular structure and the nature of its intermolecular forces. The solubility of benzene in water is around 1.8 grams/liter at room temperature, which is relatively low compared to other substances. 3

Benzene is a hydrocarbon compound composed of six carbon atoms arranged in a ring, with a hydrogen atom bonded to each carbon atom. 4 5 This molecular structure is known as a hexagonal aromatic ring. The carbon-carbon bonds in benzene are strong and nonpolar, meaning the electrons are evenly distributed throughout the molecule. As a result, benzene is a nonpolar molecule.

On the other hand, water (H2O) is a polar molecule. 6 It has a bent shape with oxygen atoms attracting electrons more strongly than hydrogen atoms, creating partial positive and negative charges within the molecule. The oxygen atom is partially negative, while the hydrogen atoms are partially positive. This polarity allows water molecules to form hydrogen bonds with each other and with other polar molecules.

When benzene is mixed with water, the nonpolar nature of benzene prevents it from forming strong interactions with the polar water molecules. The attractive forces between benzene molecules (van der Waals forces) are relatively weak compared to the strong hydrogen bonding among water molecules. As a result, benzene molecules tend to stay together, forming a separate phase from the water.

This lack of solubility in water is often described as “like dissolves like.” 7 Polar substances, like water, tend to dissolve other polar substances, while nonpolar substances, like benzene, tend to dissolve other nonpolar substances.

Can Benzene (C6H6) dissolve in other solvents?

Yes, benzene (C6H6) is soluble in many organic solvents. Since benzene is a nonpolar molecule, it tends to dissolve well in other nonpolar or weakly polar solvents. 

Some common solvents in which benzene is soluble include: 8

  • Hexane: Hexane is a nonpolar hydrocarbon solvent that readily dissolves benzene.
  • Toluene: Toluene is another aromatic hydrocarbon that is similar in structure to benzene. It is an excellent solvent for benzene.
  • Diethyl ether: Diethyl ether is a volatile and highly flammable organic solvent that is also capable of dissolving benzene.
  • Chloroform: Chloroform is a chlorinated organic solvent that exhibits some polarity but is still able to dissolve benzene.
  • Carbon tetrachloride: Carbon tetrachloride is a nonpolar solvent that is often used for dissolving benzene.

It’s important to note that benzene is considered a hazardous substance due to its toxicity and carcinogenicity. 9 10 11 Therefore, precautions should be taken when handling benzene or any solvents containing benzene.

Further reading

Why is CuSO4 (Copper Sulfate) Soluble in Water?
Why is NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide) Soluble in Water?
Is CaSO4 Soluble in Water?
Why is HCl (Hydrochloric Acid) Soluble in Water?
Is CCl4 Soluble in Water?

About author

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

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  1. Boudreaux, K. A. (n.d.). Molecule Gallery – Aromatic Rings. Molecule Gallery – Aromatic Rings.
  2. Rodebush, W. H., & Masterton, W. L. (1954, January). THE SOLUBILITY OF HYDROCARBONS IN WATER. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 40(1), 17–19.
  4. Structure of Benzene. (n.d.). Structure of Benzene.
  5. P. (n.d.). Benzene. Benzene | C6H6 | CID 241 – PubChem.
  8. Benzene – Wikipedia. (2012, May 31). Benzene – Wikipedia.
  10. Benzene and Cancer Risk. (2023, February 1). Benzene and Cancer Risk | American Cancer Society.
  11. CDC | Facts About Benzene. (2018, April 4). CDC | Facts About Benzene.

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