Time for some scienceeeeeee! (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
Although a lot of chemistry can be reasoned through, there are some things that have to be learned by brute memorization; benzene derivative nomenclature is one of these things. All of these compounds have systematic names, but the common names tend to be more widely (if not exclusively) used. (and let’s face it, the name ‘anisole’ is just cooler than ‘methoxybenzene’, you know?)
Toluene (“methylbenzene”) is a liquid widely used as a nonpolar solvent. As toluene is thought to be noncarcinogenic, it has largely replaced benzene as a solvent.
Styrene (“vinyl benzene”) is a sweet-smelling liquid that is the precursor to polystyrene plastics. Styrene is produced industrially by the catalytic dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene.
Cumene (“isopropylbenzene”) is a liquid that is an intermediate in the synthesis of acetone and phenol from benzene and propylene (the cumene process). It is also occasionally used as a solvent.
Phenol (“hydroxybenzene”; formerly “carbolic acid”) is a transparent solid. Dilute solutions of phenol have antiseptic and analgesic properties, but concentrated solutions are corrosive and toxic.
Aniline (“phenylamine”, “aminobenzene”) is a fishy-smelling liquid. Aniline was originally isolated from the dye indigo, and can be used as a precursor for many dyes and pigments.
Anisole (“methoxybenzene”) is a liquid that smells faintly of anise. Anisole is used in the perfume industry as a starting material to synthesize many different fragrances.
Benzaldehyde (“benzenecarbaldehyde”) is a liquid that was first isolated from bitter almonds. Not surprisingly, benzaldehyde has a strong scent of almonds and can be used as a flavoring agent.
Benzoic acid is a solid that was first isolated from gum benzoin, a tree resin. Benzoic acid and its salts are often used as preservatives in acidic foods like fruit juice and carbonated drinks.
Benzamide is a solid, and is the amide of benzoic acid. Its primary use is as a precursor to other compounds, and is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry for this purpose.
Acetophenone (“phenyl methyl ketone”) is a pleasant-smelling liquid found naturally in many foods, such as bananas and apricots. It is often used in fragrances for this reason.
Benzonitrile (“cyanobenzene”) is a liquid that has a faint almond smell. It was first discovered as a decomposition product of ammonium benzoate and used as both a solvent and a reagent.
Benzenesulfonic acid is a solid produced by the sulfonation of benzene. Although it was formerly used to synthesize phenol, this purpose has been replaced by the cumene process.