White spirit is a clear, colourless, non-viscous liquid. It is a complex mixture containing mainly C7-C12 hydrocarbons with a boiling range of 130-220 °C, and is produced by fractional distillation of the naphtha and kerosene components of crude petroleum. The exact content of white spirit can vary due to differences in production processes, but more significantly from variations in the raw material (crude oil).

There are four types of white spirit defined by the chemical processes that the crude substance undergoes during its production (IPCS, 1996):

1) 'Straight run white spirit' which has not been treated beyond the process of distillation (type 0)

2) Hydrodesulphurised (type 1)

3) Solvent extracted (type 2)

4) Hydrogenated (type 3)

Each type of white spirit is further sub-divided in to 3 technical grades: a) low flash grade, b) regular grade and c) high flash grade.

White spirit in Europe and Stoddard solvent in the USA are both type 1 white spirit. NIOSH (1977) considers Stoddard solvent to contain mainly C9-C11 hydrocarbons and the proportion of hydrocarbons to be: 3050% straight and branched chain hydrocarbons, 30-40% naphthenes and 10-20% aromatics.

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