Solvents Resource Center


Common Uses of Solvents

Solvents are liquid, gas, or solid chemicals that dissolve, extract, or suspend other substances. The most common and universal solvent is water, which dissolves more substances than any other.

Solvents are often categorized as polar or nonpolar, a factor of the solvent’s structure and charge that determines the types of substances it can dissolve. Polar solvents have a positive and a negative charge at different places in their structures and will dissolve other polar substances. Water, acetone, acetonitrile, dimethylformamide (DMF), dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), ethanol, isopropanol, and methanol are examples of polar solvents.

Nonpolar solvents include alkanes (pentanehexane, and heptane) and aromatics (benzene, toluene, and xylene). Other common nonpolar solvents include acetic acidchloroformdiethyl etherethyl acetatemethylene chloride, and pyridine. Nonpolar organic solvents are used as spot removers, paint thinners, nail polish removers, glue solvents, and in perfumes and detergents.

Solvents are used extensively as a medium for chemical reactions and analytical separations and are available in various purity grades and packaging options. They are also essential for manufacturing cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, personal care items, textiles, paints, pesticides, and many other products.

Long-term exposure to some solvents can be hazardous to worker health, however. Chloroform and benzene, for example, are commonly found in gasoline and considered carcinogenic. Solvents can also damage the liver, kidneys, nervous system, or the brain. Chronic solvent-induced encephalopathy (CSE) is a known condition. Occupational exposure to organic solvents is associated with alcoholism, cataracts, and the loss of hearing and color vision.

  More about solvents

Top Solvents

Learn about each solvent’s physical and chemical properties, uses, designations and grades, and more.

Related Resources

Talk with a Chemical and Chromatography Specialist

Chemical and Chromatography Specialists

Our team is ready to answer your questions and help you select products.

Contact Us

Fisher Scientific Edge

Get Solvents Shipped the Same Day

Find a range of solvents available for same-day shipping through the Fisher Scientific Edge program.

Shop Now

Bulk and Custom Chemical Solutions

Bulk and Custom Chemical Solutions

Our specialists can help you find what works best for your operation.

Contact Us

Chemical Storage and Management Resource Center

Chemical Storage and Management Resource Center

Access safety data sheets, product certificates, and more.

Explore Now

Additional Solvents Resources

Download the following resources to learn more about solvent selection and browse our portfolio.





Find solvents, reagents, and more for liquid and gas chromatography.

Shop Chromatography Products

Cell Analysis Methods

Cell Analysis Methods

Explore products for flow cytometry, cell imaging, and more.

Shop Cell Analysis Products

Protein Biology Methods

Protein Biology Methods

Browse isolation, purification, separation, and detection essentials.

Shop Protein Biology Products

Molecular Biology Methods

Molecular Biology Methods

Explore products and resources for molecular biology protocols.

Shop Molecular Biology Products