Toluene, formerly known as toluol, is a clear, water-insoluble liquid with the typical smell of paint thinner
Paint thinner
A paint thinner is a solvent used to thin oil-based paints or clean up after their use, although all such solvents have other uses. Commercially, "paint thinner" is usually a name for mineral spirits.Products used as paint thinners include:*Mineral spirits...

s. It is a mono-substituted benzene
Benzene is an organic chemical compound. It is composed of 6 carbon atoms in a ring, with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom, with the molecular formula C6H6....

 derivative, i.e., one in which a single hydrogen atom from the benzene molecule has been replaced by a univalent group, in this case CH3
Methyl group
Methyl group is a functional group derived from methane, containing one carbon atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms —CH3. The group is often abbreviated Me. Such hydrocarbon groups occur in many organic compounds. The methyl group can be found in three forms: anion, cation and radical. The anion...


It is an aromatic hydrocarbon
Aromatic hydrocarbon
An aromatic hydrocarbon or arene is a hydrocarbon with alternating double and single bonds between carbon atoms. The term 'aromatic' was assigned before the physical mechanism determining aromaticity was discovered, and was derived from the fact that many of the compounds have a sweet scent...

 that is widely used as an industrial feedstock and as a solvent
A solvent is a liquid, solid, or gas that dissolves another solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution that is soluble in a certain volume of solvent at a specified temperature...

. Like other solvents, toluene is sometimes also used as an inhalant
Inhalants are a broad range of drugs whose volatile vapors are taken in via the nose and trachea. They are taken by volatilization, and do not include drugs that are inhaled after burning or heating...

 drug for its intoxicating properties; however, inhaling toluene has potential to cause severe neurological harm.