The following information has been extracted from our CHEMINFO database, which also contains hazard control and regulatory information. [More about...] [Sample Record]

Access the complete CHEMINFO database by contacting CCOHS Client Services.


CHEMINFO Record Number: 796
CCOHS Chemical Name: n-Butyl Lactate

Butyl alpha-hydroxypropionate
1-Hydroxyethanecarboxylic acid, butyl ester
2-Hydroxypropanoic acid, butyl ester
2-Hydroxypropionic acid, butyl ester
Lactic acid, butyl ester
Lactate de butyle normale

Chemical Name French: Lactate de butyle normal
Chemical Name Spanish: Lactato de n-butilo
CAS Registry Number: 138-22-7
RTECS Number(s): OD4025000
Chemical Family: Saturated aliphatic hydroxy carboxylic acid ester / saturated aliphatic hydroxy monocarboxylic acid ester / hydroxyalkanoic acid ester / alkyl hydroxyalkanoate / butyl ester / lactate
Molecular Formula: C7-H14-O3
Structural Formula: CH3-CH(OH)-C(=O)-O-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH3


Appearance and Odour:
Colourless liquid; mild, transient odour (3,5,6)

Odour Threshold:
Reported values vary widely; 0.002 to 7 ppm (0.095 to 41.8 mg/m3) (2,7,8) (methods not specified)

Warning Properties:
POOR - reported odour threshold values vary widely.

Butyl lactate can exist in two chemical forms (isomers), butyl D-lactate, butyl L-lactate. Generally, it is available commercially as a mixture of the two forms, butyl DL-lactate

Uses and Occurrences:
Butyl lactate is used in cosmetic formulations, such as in creams, lotions and fragrances; in soaps and detergents; as a food additive; as a leveling agent; as a solvent for cellulose compounds, oils, dyes and natural gums, many synthetic polymers; as a major vehicle component in paints; in lacquers, inks, stencil pastes, dry-cleaning fluids, and adhesives.(1,2,3,9)


Colourless liquid with a mild, transient odour. COMBUSTIBLE LIQUID AND VAPOUR. May cause irritation of the nose and throat, and headaches and fatigue. May cause skin and eye irritation.


Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure

Butyl lactate has a relatively low vapour pressure. Therefore, it is not expected to easily form high airborne concentrations, unless it is heated or misted. Headaches, fatigue and mild irritation of the nose and throat may occur. An animal toxicity value indicates that inhalation toxicity is low.
Prolonged occupational exposure to approximately 7 to 11 ppm is reported to have caused headaches, irritation of the nose and throat and coughing. Some employees reported fatigue and headaches, and occasionally nausea and vomiting. No problems were reported below 1.4 ppm.(1 citing unpublished information) In another unpublished report, 50% of the volunteers on a test panel reported the odour of butyl lactate to be unpleasant at 1.5 ppm.(2 citing an unpublished study)

Skin Contact:
Butyl lactate may be a moderate irritant, based on very limited animal information. Application of butyl lactate (concentration not specified but assumed to be 1%) did not produce irritation in volunteers when applied under cover for 48 hours.(2,3,4 citing unpublished information)

Eye Contact:
Butyl lactate may be a moderate eye irritant, based on very limited animal skin irritation data. There is no specific information available.

There is no human information available. Animal toxicity information suggests that butyl lactate is not very harmful following ingestion. Ingestion is not a typical route of occupational exposure.

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

There is no information available about the potential effects of long-term exposure to butyl lactate.

SKIN SENSITIZATION: No sensitization reactions were observed in a maximization test with 25 volunteers.(2,3,4 citing unpublished information)


There is no animal or human information available.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has not evaluated the carcinogenicity of this chemical.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has not assigned a carcinogenicity designation to this chemical.

The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has not listed this chemical in its report on carcinogens.

Teratogenicity and Embryotoxicity:
There is no animal or human information available.

Reproductive Toxicity:
There is no animal or human information available.

There is no information available.

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
There is no information available.

Potential for Accumulation:
There is no specific information available for butyl lactate. Based on information reported for ethyl lactate, a closely related lactate ester, butyl lactate may be metabolized to lactic acid and 1-butanol.(2) L(+)-Lactic acid is a normal metabolic intermediate produced by most mammalian cells.(3)


No health effects expected. If symptoms are experienced, remove source of contamination and have victim move to fresh air. If symptoms persist, obtain medical advice.

Skin Contact:
If irritation occurs, flush with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 5 minutes or until the chemical is removed. If irritation persists, obtain medical advice. Completely decontaminate clothing, shoes and leather goods before re-use.

Eye Contact:
If irritation occurs, flush the contaminated eye(s) with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 5 minutes or until the chemical is removed. If irritation persist, obtain medical advice.

If irritation or discomfort occur, obtain medical advice immediately.

First Aid Comments:
All first aid procedures should be periodically reviewed by a doctor familiar with the material and its conditions of use in the workplace.


Flash Point:
79 deg C (174.2 deg F) (closed cup) (2)

Lower Flammable (Explosive) Limit (LFL/LEL):
1.15% (6)

Upper Flammable (Explosive) Limit (UFL/UEL):
Not available

Autoignition (Ignition) Temperature:
382 deg C (720 deg F) (10)

Sensitivity to Mechanical Impact:
Not sensitive. Stable compound.

Sensitivity to Static Charge:
No specific information is available for butyl lactate. It will probably not accumulate static charge, since hydroxy esters have high electrical conductivities.

Combustion and Thermal Decomposition Products:
Incomplete combustion may produce irritating fumes and acrid smoke.

Fire Hazard Summary:
Combustible liquid. Can form explosive mixtures with air at, or above, 79 deg C. During a fire irritating/toxic gases may be formed. Closed containers may rupture violently or explode and suddenly release large amounts of product when exposed to fire or excessive heat for a sufficient period of time.

Extinguishing Media:
Carbon dioxide, dry chemical powder, alcohol foam, polymer foam, water spray or fog.(5,6) Alcohol-resistant fire-fighting foam is recommended for use on all water-soluble liquids, or polar-type solvents.

Fire Fighting Instructions:
Evacuate area and fight fire from a safe distance or protected location. Approach fire from upwind to avoid hazardous and toxic decomposition products.
If possible, isolate materials not yet involved in the fire, and move containers from fire area if this can be done without risk, and protect personnel. Otherwise, fire-exposed containers or tanks should be cooled by application of hose streams. Application should begin as soon as possible and should concentrate on any unwetted portions of the container. Cool containers from the side until well after the fire is out. If the above cooling procedure is not possible, use unmanned monitor nozzles and immediately evacuate the area.
If a leak or spill has not ignited, use water spray in large quantities to disperse the vapours and to protect personnel attempting to stop a leak. Water spray can be used to dilute spills to nonflammable mixtures and flush spills away from ignition sources. Solid streams of water may be ineffective and spread material.
For a massive fire in a large area, use unmanned hose holder or monitor nozzles; if this is not possible withdraw from fire area and allow fire to burn. Stay away from ends of tanks, but be aware that flying material from ruptured tanks may travel in any direction. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from venting safety device or any discolouration of tank due to fire.
Firefighters may enter the area if positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (MSHA/NIOSH approved or equivalent) and full Bunker Gear is worn.


NFPA - Health: 1 - Exposure would cause significant irritation, but only minor residual injury.
NFPA - Flammability: 2 - Must be moderately heated or exposed to relatively high ambient temperatures before ignition can occur.
NFPA - Instability: 0 - Normally stable, even under fire conditions, and not reactive with water.


Molecular Weight: 146.19

Conversion Factor:
1 ppm = 5.97 mg/m3; 1 mg/m3 = 0.168 ppm at 25 deg C (calculated)

Physical State: Liquid
Melting Point: -43 deg C (-45.4 deg F) (2,3); -49 deg C (-56.2 deg F) (DL) (3)
Boiling Point: 187-188 deg C (368.6-370.4 deg F) (2,3,9)
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 0.95 at 20 deg C (9); 0.974-0.984 at 20 deg C (3) (water=1)
Solubility in Water: Slightly soluble (3.3 g/ 100 mL) (2,3,6)
Solubility in Other Liquids: Soluble in all proportions in ethanol, diethyl ether, many lacquer solvents, diluents and oils.(1,3,6)
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Not available
pH Value: Not available
Viscosity-Dynamic: 3.8 mPa.s (3.8 centipoise) at 20 deg C (9)
Viscosity-Kinematic: 3.86-4.0 mm2/s (3.86-4.0 centistokes) at 20 deg C (calculated)
Vapour Density: 5.0 (air = 1) (6,10)
Vapour Pressure: 0.05 kPa (0.4 mm Hg) at 20 deg C (1,2,6,9)
Saturation Vapour Concentration: 526 ppm (0.05%) at 25 deg C (calculated)
Evaporation Rate: Not available
Critical Temperature: Not available


Normally stable

Hazardous Polymerization:
Does not occur

Incompatibility - Materials to Avoid:

NOTE: Chemical reactions that could result in a hazardous situation (e.g. generation of flammable or toxic chemicals, fire or detonation) are listed here. Many of these reactions can be done safely if specific control measures (e.g. cooling of the reaction) are in place. Although not intended to be complete, an overview of important reactions involving common chemicals is provided to assist in the development of safe work practices.

STRONG OXIDIZING AGENTS (e.g. hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate, or chromates) - may react vigorously or violently, with risk of fire and explosion.(5,6,11)
STRONG ACIDS (e.g. sulfuric, hydrochloric or nitric acids) or BASES (e.g. sodium or potassium hydroxide) - decomposition (hydrolysis) can occur, releasing heat. The reaction may be vigorous or violent.(5,6,11)

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
Does not occur

Conditions to Avoid:
Heat, open flames

Corrosivity to Metals:
Butyl lactate is not corrosive to the common metals, such as cast iron, steel, stainless steel, copper and its alloys, nickel and its alloys, and aluminum.(12)


LC50 (rat): Greater than 5000 mg/m3 (4-hour exposure) (2 citing unpublished information)

LD50 (oral, rabbit): Greater than 5000 mg/kg (0/10 deaths) (3,4 citing unpublished information)

LD50 (dermal, rabbit): Greater than 5000 mg/kg (0/10 deaths) (3,4 citing unpublished information)

Skin Irritation:

Application of butyl lactate produced moderate to marked redness and slight to moderate swelling in rabbits. It is assumed the butyl lactate was undiluted and applied under cover to intact and broken skin for 24 hours.(3,4 citing unpublished information)


Selected Bibliography:
(1) n-Butyl lactate. In: Documentation of the threshold limit values and biological exposure indices. 6th edition. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, 1991
(2) Criteria Group for Occupational Standards, National Institute for Working Life. Consensus report for lactates. In: Scientific Basis for Swedish Occupational Standards XVI. Edited by P. Lundberg. Arbete Och Halsa. Vol. 19 (1995). p. 68-73
(3) Final report on the safety assessment of glycolic acid, ammonium, calcium, potassium, and sodium glycolates, methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butyl glycolates, and lactic acid, ammonium, calcium, potassium, sodium, and TEA- lactates, methyl, ethyl, isopropyl, and butyl lactates, and lauryl, myristyl, and cetyl lactates. International Journal of Toxicology. Thirty-fourth report of the Cosmetic Review Expert Panel. Vol. 17, suppl. 1 (1998). p. 1-241
(4) Opdyke, D.L.J. Fragrance raw materials monographs: butyl lactate. Food and Cosmetics Toxicology. Vol. 17 (1979). p. 727
(5) The Sigma-Aldrich library of chemical safety data. Edition II. Volume 1. Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, 1988. p. 635C
(6) Occupational safety and health guideline for n-butyl lactate. U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1992
(7) Ruth, R.J. Odor thresholds and irritation levels of several chemical substances: a review. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal. Vol. 47 (March, 1986). p. A145
(8) Amoore, J.E. et al. Odor as an aid to chemical safety: odor thresholds compared with threshold limit values and volatiles for 214 industrial chemicals in air and water dilution. Journal of Applied Toxicology. Vol. 3, no. 6 (1983). p. 274-275
(9) Stoye, D., et al. Solvents. In: Ullman's encyclopedia of industrial chemistry. 5th revised edition. Vol. A 24. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, 1993. p. 448-454, 481, 494
(10) Fire protection guide to hazardous materials. 13th ed. Edited by A.B. Spencer, et al. National Fire Protection Association, 2002. NFPA 325
(11) Pohanish, R.P., et al. Rapid guide to chemical incompatibilities. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1997. p. 140, 476
(12) Corrosion data survey: metals section. 6th edition. National Association of Corrosion Engineers, 1985. p. 24-14 to 25-14

Information on chemicals reviewed in the CHEMINFO database is drawn from a number of publicly available sources. A list of general references used to compile CHEMINFO records is available in the database Help.

Review/Preparation Date: 2000-04-04

Revision Indicators:
Bibliography 2003-04-18
PEL-TWA final 2004-01-08

©2007 Canadian  Centre  for  Occupational  Health  &  Safety  E-mail:  Fax: (905) 572-2206  Phone: (905) 572-2981  
Mail:  250  Main  Street  East,  Hamilton  Ontario  L8N  1H6