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Panel: Steve Risotto
Media: Bryan Goodman

Learn about solvent uses and the benefits of solvents.

Organic solvents are found in many household products and are critical to their effectiveness. They help paint to flow and form a smooth surface on whatever is being painted. Solvents improve the cleaning ability of many household cleaners, including hard surface cleaners, window cleaners, floor polishes, and automotive cleaners, just to name a few. They also are an important part of many beauty and cosmetic products. Nail polish and removers, hairspray, antiseptics and many other products rely on solvents to dissolve other ingredients and allow them to work properly.

You may not realize that solvents are also critical to the function of many everyday products. Many pharmaceuticals could not be manufactured or purified without the use of solvents. Solvents are critical to the production of many life-saving drugs and the continued development of new ones.

Solvents also make possible many other products that are commonplace in our lives. Many solvent systems allow the use of pigments responsible for their vivid colors. Solvents are used when automobiles are being manufactured and when we drive them. Solvent-containing  adhesives allow for metal pieces to be bonded strongly together. That “new car shine” is made possible by special paints made with solvents. And the many miles we drive each day are made possible through solvents used in windshield washer fluid, brake and transmission fluids and cleaners used to remove brake dust from wheels.

The list of benefits solvents provide goes on and on. Additional information on solvent uses can be found in our publication, Solvents Explained.

Learn more about solvent applications in building and construction at BuildingwithChemistry.org.

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