Benzene is an organic chemical compound with the molecular formula C6H6. Its molecule is composed of 6 carbon atoms joined in a ring, with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom. Because its molecules contain only carbon and hydrogen atoms, benzene is classed as a hydrocarbon.
Benzene is a natural constituent of crude oil, and is one of the most elementary petrochemicals. Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon, a cyclic hydrocarbon with a continuous pi bond. It is sometimes abbreviated Ph–H. Benzene is a colorless and highly flammable liquid with a sweet smell. It is mainly used as a precursor to heavy chemicals, such as ethylbenzene and cumene, which are produced on a billion kilogram scale. Because it has a high octane number, it is an important component of gasoline, comprising a few percent of its mass. Most non-industrial applications have been limited by benzene’s carcinogenicity.