Xylene is an aromatic hydrocarbon widely used in industry and medical technology as a solvent. It is a colorless, sweet-smelling liquid or gas occurring naturally in petroleum, coal and wood tar.
Xylene is used as a solvent in the printing, rubber, paint and leather industries. It is found in small amounts in airplane fuel, gasoline and cigarette smoke. In dentistry, xylene is used in histological laboratories for tissue processing, staining and cover slipping and also in endodontic retreatment as a guttapercha solvent. Its high solvency factor allows maximum displacement of alcohol and renders the tissue transparent, enhancing paraffin infiltration. In staining procedures, its excellent dewaxing and clearing capabilities contribute to brilliantly stained slides.