Definition

“The benzene ring is a basic component of many organic compounds, especially the aromatic hydrocarbons. In benzene itself, each carbon atom is also bonded to a hydrogen atom; in derivatives of benzene, one or more of the hydrogen atoms is replaced by other atoms or groups of atoms.” Dictionary.com

Benzene Ring

Thinking back to your school days and science, organic means the chemistry of carbon based compounds, which are substances that results from a combination of two or more different chemical elements.  The atoms of the different elements are held together by chemical bonds that are difficult to break.  These bonds form as a result of the sharing or exchange of electrons among the atoms.

Some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are hydrocarbons but not all hydrocarbons are VOCs. The latter have a significant vapour pressure at normal ambient temperature which means they evaporate (volatilise) at low temperatures so they can easily enter the body through normal breathing.

Benzene, also known as benzol, is one such common VOC, identified by its unique numerical CAS2 number 71-42-2.  It is also a hydrocarbon as you can see from the chemical formula of Benzene which is C6H6, represented diagrammatically as a ring, commonly know as the Benzene Ring (see opposite).

It belongs to the BTEX family (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Xylene) of so called aromatics because of their sweet, pleasant smell.

Download our Guide: The Basics of Benzene

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