1. <chemistry> The complex mixture of volatile, liquid, inflammable hydrocarbons, occurring naturally, and usually called crude petroleum, mineral oil, or rock oil. Specifically: That portion of the distillate obtained in the refinement of petroleum which is intermediate between the lighter gasoline and the heavier benzine, and has a specific gravity of about 0.7, used as a solvent for varnishes, as a carburetant, illuminant, etc.

2. <chemistry> One of several volatile inflammable liquids obtained by the distillation of certain carbonaceous materials and resembling the naphtha from petroleum; as, Boghead naphtha, from Boghead coal (obtained at Boghead, Scotland); crude naphtha, or light oil, from coal tar; wood naphtha, from wood, etc.

This term was applied by the earlier chemical writers to a number of volatile, strong smelling, inflammable liquids, chiefly belonging to the ethers, as the sulphate, nitrate, or acetate of ethyl. Naphtha vitrioli [NL, naphtha of vitriol.

<chemistry> Common ethyl ether; formerly called sulphuric ether. See Ether.

Origin: L. Naphtha, Gr, fr.Ar. Nafth, nifth.

(01 Mar 1998)

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