Distinguish Between Chloroethane And Chlorobenzene

Chloroethane and chlorobenzene are two commonly used chemicals, each with distinct properties and applications. Their differences are significant, impacting how they are produced, used, and handled in various industries. While they may sound similar, their chemical structures set them apart, leading to varied physical properties and uses.

Chloroethane, a simple alkane with a chlorine atom, and chlorobenzene, an aromatic compound, are fundamentally different. Chloroethane is primarily used as a refrigerant and a local anesthetic, whereas chlorobenzene is utilized in the manufacture of other chemicals such as phenol and DDT. Understanding these differences is crucial for proper application and handling.

The distinction between these compounds extends beyond their immediate uses and into their environmental impact and health implications. Both chemicals are managed under specific regulations due to their potential hazards, making their identification and understanding important for safety and compliance.

Chemical Structures

Chloroethane Basics

Molecular Formula and Structure

Chloroethane, also known as ethyl chloride, bears the molecular formula C2H5Cl. This compound consists of a two-carbon alkane (ethane) where one hydrogen atom is substituted by a chlorine atom. Structurally, chloroethane is characterized by its single covalent bonds that connect the carbon atoms to each other and to the chlorine and hydrogen atoms, forming a simple linear chain.

Visual Representation

The visual representation of chloroethane shows a straight chain where the chlorine atom is attached to one of the carbon atoms, significantly affecting the chemical’s reactivity due to the electronegative nature of chlorine.

Chlorobenzene Basics

Molecular Formula and Structure

Chlorobenzene has a molecular formula of C6H5Cl and belongs to the aromatic hydrocarbons family. The structure of chlorobenzene includes a benzene ring, which is a ring of six carbon atoms with alternating double bonds, and a single chlorine atom attached to one of these carbons.

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Visual Representation

In the benzene ring of chlorobenzene, the presence of the chlorine atom introduces a unique aspect of aromatic substitution, which influences the compound’s chemical behavior and reactivity.

Physical Properties

Chloroethane Properties

Boiling and Melting Points

Chloroethane has a boiling point of approximately 12.3°C and a melting point of -138°C. These properties make chloroethane highly volatile and useful in applications requiring rapid evaporation.

Density and Solubility

The density of chloroethane is about 0.921 g/cm³ at room temperature. It is moderately soluble in water but mixes well with most organic solvents, enhancing its utility in various industrial processes.

Chlorobenzene Properties

Boiling and Melting Points

Chlorobenzene boils at around 131°C and melts at -45°C. Its higher boiling point compared to chloroethane reflects the stability imparted by the benzene ring.

Density and Solubility

With a density of 1.106 g/cm³, chlorobenzene is denser than water. It exhibits low solubility in water but is readily soluble in organic solvents, making it suitable for use in organic syntheses and manufacturing processes.

Production Methods

Making Chloroethane

Industrial Synthesis Routes

Chloroethane is predominantly produced by the reaction of ethylene with hydrogen chloride under high temperatures, often facilitated by a catalyst. This process, known as hydrochlorination, is simple and efficient, leading to the large-scale production of chloroethane.

  • Reactants: Ethylene (C2H4) and Hydrogen Chloride (HCl)
  • Conditions: High temperature, catalyst present
  • Product: Chloroethane (C2H5Cl)

Making Chlorobenzene

Industrial Synthesis Routes

The primary method for producing chlorobenzene is through the chlorination of benzene, using either sulfur dichloride or ferric chloride as a catalyst. This process, known as electrophilic aromatic substitution, is critical for integrating the chlorine atom into the benzene ring.

  • Reactants: Benzene (C6H6) and Chlorine (Cl2)
  • Catalyst: Ferric chloride (FeCl3)
  • Product: Chlorobenzene (C6H5Cl)

Common Uses

Uses of Chloroethane

Chloroethane sees a wide range of applications, both in industrial and medical fields.

  • Industrial Applications: Used as a refrigerant and in the production of tetraethyl lead.
  • Medical Applications: Serves as a skin refrigerant for minor surgical procedures and as a local anesthetic.

Uses of Chlorobenzene

Chlorobenzene’s applications are predominantly industrial, where it is used as a solvent and a precursor to other chemical compounds.

  • Manufacturing Phenol: Chlorobenzene is hydrolyzed under high pressure and temperature to produce phenol and hydrochloric acid.
  • Synthesis of Pesticides: It is also an intermediate in the production of certain pesticides, showcasing its importance in chemical manufacturing.
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Health and Safety

Chloroethane Risks

Health Impacts

Exposure to chloroethane can have various health impacts depending on the route and level of exposure. Inhalation of chloroethane vapors can cause respiratory distress, dizziness, and even loss of consciousness in high concentrations. Long-term exposure might lead to more severe effects such as liver and kidney damage.

Safety Measures

To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to implement strict safety measures when handling chloroethane:

  • Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Gloves, goggles, and respiratory protection should be worn.
  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure that work areas are well-ventilated to prevent vapor accumulation.
  • Training and Emergency Procedures: Workers should be trained on the hazards and emergency response procedures related to chloroethane.

Chlorobenzene Risks

Health Impacts

Chlorobenzene exposure primarily affects the skin, respiratory system, and eyes. It can cause skin irritation and dermatitis upon contact, while inhalation may lead to respiratory irritation and chronic effects like liver damage and dysfunction.

Safety Measures

Handling chlorobenzene safely involves several preventive strategies:

  • Enclosed Handling Systems: Use closed systems for transferring and using chlorobenzene to minimize vapor release.
  • PPE Compliance: Skin and eye protection, along with appropriate respiratory gear, are essential.
  • Regular Monitoring: Air quality monitoring in areas where chlorobenzene is used or stored to ensure exposure levels remain below recommended limits.

Environmental Impact

Chloroethane and Environment

Ecological Effects

Chloroethane, although less harmful than many other chemicals, still poses risks to the environment. It can contribute to ground-level ozone formation, which is harmful to both plant life and animal health. Chloroethane is also a volatile organic compound (VOC), which can participate in atmospheric reactions leading to smog formation.


Environmental regulations regarding chloroethane include:

  • VOC Emissions Controls: Regulations aimed at controlling VOC emissions to mitigate ozone and smog formation.
  • Disposal Measures: Guidelines on the proper disposal and handling to prevent environmental contamination.

Chlorobenzene and Environment

Ecological Effects

Chlorobenzene’s environmental impact is notably significant due to its persistence in soil and water bodies. It can cause long-term contamination of groundwater and has toxic effects on aquatic life, impacting ecosystems adversely.

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To control the environmental footprint of chlorobenzene, several regulatory measures are in place:

  • Water Quality Standards: Limits on the allowable concentration of chlorobenzene in water to protect aquatic life.
  • Soil Contamination Prevention: Guidelines to prevent soil contamination during manufacturing and disposal processes.

Legal and Regulatory Status

Regulations on Chloroethane

Chloroethane is subject to global regulations that govern its use, handling, and disposal. These include:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards: Regulations to ensure safe workplace conditions and limit occupational exposure.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guidelines: Standards for emissions and environmental protection.

Regulations on Chlorobenzene

Chlorobenzene, being more hazardous, is regulated more stringently across various jurisdictions. Some of the key regulations include:

  • Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS): Chlorobenzene is listed under this directive, which restricts its use in electrical and electronic equipment within the European Union.
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA): Under this U.S. law, chlorobenzene is classified as a hazardous substance, and strict reporting requirements govern its handling and accidental releases.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Chloroethane?

Chloroethane, also known as ethyl chloride, is a chemical compound classified as a haloalkane. It is primarily used in medical applications as a topical anesthetic and in industrial settings as a refrigerant due to its low boiling point.

How is Chlorobenzene Produced?

Chlorobenzene is produced through the chlorination of benzene in the presence of a catalyst such as ferric chloride. This reaction is significant in the chemical industry for producing materials like pesticides, rubber, and pharmaceuticals.

Are These Chemicals Environmentally Safe?

Both chloroethane and chlorobenzene pose environmental risks. Chloroethane can contribute to atmospheric ozone depletion, while chlorobenzene is a persistent organic pollutant that can affect aquatic life and contaminate water sources.

What Are the Safety Measures for Handling Chloroethane?

Handling chloroethane requires precautions such as using proper ventilation, avoiding open flames (as it is highly flammable), and wearing protective gear to prevent inhalation or skin contact.

How Does Chlorobenzene Affect Human Health?

Exposure to chlorobenzene can lead to respiratory issues, skin irritation, and more severe health problems with long-term exposure. It is classified as a possible human carcinogen, emphasizing the need for strict handling and exposure controls.


In conclusion, while chloroethane and chlorobenzene share some similarities, such as being chlorinated hydrocarbons, they are distinctly different in their chemical structures, uses, and safety concerns. Recognizing these differences is essential for their safe and effective application in various industrial processes.

Understanding the properties, applications, and risks associated with chloroethane and chlorobenzene not only promotes safety but also ensures compliance with environmental and health regulations. This awareness aids in the responsible management of these chemicals in any setting where they are used.

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