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Solvent Alternatives Guide
Glycol Ethers

General Information

  • Glycol ethers may be known by the trade names:
    • Cellosolve™ ethyl glycol ethers and ether acetates
    • Carbitol™ diethyl glycol ethers and ether acetates
    • Arcosolv PTB™ propylene glycol tertiary butyl ether
    • Dowanol™ (di)propylene glycol n-butyl ether
    • ROSSTECH™ Formula 119EC glycol ethers and alkanolamines.

  • Various forms of glycol ethers include ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylene glycol monoethyl ether, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate, diethylene glycol monoethyl ether, and propylene glycol n-butyl ether.

  • Commonly used in the semiconductor industry to strip photoresist materials.

  • May be used for glass cleaning, to remove flux, solder paste, cermet and graphics inks, grease, oils, etc., by wiping, immersion, or ultrasonics.

  • Propylene glycol ethers (PGE) tested on fluxes for wave and reflow soldering show good results depending heavily on type of flux and the choice of cleaning process.

  • Propylene glycol methyl ether (PM) and propylene glycol methyl ether acetate (PMA) are effective substitutes for methylene chloride in paint stripper and foam cleanup with low toxicity, high solvency, and low odor at moderate cost. They can be used by themselves or blended with solvents such as propylene carbonate, N-methyl pyrrolidone, and acetophenone to enhance solvency characteristics and increase flash points.

  • Glycol ethers tend to emulsify well for cleaning and separate easily during recovery.

  • May be found as components of custom cleaner chemistries.

  • The most commonly and widely used E-series (ethyl) glycol ethers for cleaning products are now ethylene glycol butyl ether (EB) and diethylene glycol butyl ether (DB).

  • P-series (propyl) glycol ethers when used in cleaner formulations offer performance that is comparable to and in some cases greater than, the E-series products with low toxicity and almost no odor.

  • Tests indicate that propylene glycol butyl ether cleans as well as or better than ethylene glycol butyl ether, cuts grease better, is compatible with many components of cleaning products, and has a lower toxicity profile.

  • Toxicity, odor, and effluent foaming may be problems.

  • Alternatives to ethylene glycol ethers include propylene glycol ethers, ethyl 3-ethoxypropionate, and ethyl lactate.

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All SAGE material, Copyright© 1992, Research Triangle Institute
Last Update: 14 March 1995