The main uses of Naphtha

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Naphtha is a term used to refer to a group of volatile, flammable mixtures of liquid hydrocarbons.that are used mainly as solvents, diluents, or raw materials for gasoline conversion. It is a lightweight petrochemical feedstock that is separated from crude oil in the fractional distillation process along with kerosene and jet fuel

There are many specific types of naphtha that vary in the amounts and types of hydrocarbons contained in their unique blend.Refineries can produce various forms of naphtha, and each has specific guidelines in how it should be handled and stored. Generally speaking, the flammability and volatility of naphtha should be taken into consideration as they are significant safety hazards

Types of Naphtha

Various qualifiers have been added to the term “naphtha” by different sources in an effort to make it more specific

One source distinguishes by boiling point

Light naphtha is the fraction boiling between 30 °C and 90 °C and consists of molecules with 5–6 carbon atoms. Heavy naphtha boils between 90 °C and 200 °C and consists of molecules with 6–12 carbon atoms

Another source differentiates light and heavy comments on the hydrocarbon structure, but offers a less precise dividing line

Light [is] a mixture consisting mainly of straight-chained and cyclic aliphatic hydrocarbons having from five to six carbon atoms per molecule. Heavy [is] a mixture consisting mainly of straight-chained and cyclic aliphatic hydrocarbons having from seven to nine carbon atoms per molecule

Both of these are useful definitions, but they are incompatible with one another and the latter does not provide for mixes containing both six and seven carbon atoms per molecule. These terms are also sufficiently broad that they are not widely useful

Heavy crude oil dilution

Naphtha is used to dilute heavy crude oil to reduce its viscosity and enable/facilitate transport; undiluted heavy crude cannot normally be transported by pipeline, and may also be difficult to pump onto oil tankers


Light naphtha is used as a fuel in some commercial applications. One notable example is the Zippo lighter, which draws naphtha into a wick from a reservoir to be ignited using the flint and wheel

It is also a fuel for camping stoves and oil lanterns, naphtha’s low boiling point making it easy to ignite. Naphtha is sometimes preferred over kerosene due to a lower incidence of fuel line clogging


Naphtha is a crucial component in the production of plastics