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(also called p-dihydroxy-benzene), colorless crystals. Melting point, 170.3° C; density, 1.358 g/cm3. Sublimates in a vacuum.
Hydroquinone is readily soluble in ethanol and ether and slightly soluble in benzene; 5.7 g of hydroquinone dissolves in 100 g of water at 15° C. It is a powerful reducing agent. In aqueous solutions, particularly alkaline solutions, it is oxidized by atmospheric oxygen.
Hydroquinone is produced industrially by the reduction of quinone, as well as by alkaline fusion of p -hydroxy-benzenesulfonic acid or p -chlorophenol.
Hydroquinone is used as a photographic developer and as an antioxidant. It is an intermediate in the synthesis of many organic dyes. In analytical chemistry it is used in the determination of a number of elements. The molecular compound of hydroquinone with quinone—so-called quinhydrone, C6H4O2 C6H4(OH)2—is used in determining hydrogen-ion concentration. The compound of hydroquinone with glucose, arbutin, is widespread in nature. Hydroquinone was first prepared by the German chemist F. Wöhler in 1844.