Naphtha is a flammable liquid mixture of hydrocarbons. It can be a component of natural gas condensate or a distillation product from petroleum, coal tar, or peat boiling. It is a broad term covering among the lightest and most volatile fractions of the liquid hydrocarbons in petroleum. Naphtha is a colorless to reddish-brown volatile aromatic liquid, very similar to gasoline.
In Petroleum Refinery Engineering, full range naphtha is defined as the fraction of hydrocarbons in petroleum boiling between 30 °C and 200 °C. It consists of a complex mixture of hydrocarbon molecules generally having between 5 and 12 carbon atoms. It typically constitutes 15–30% of crude oil, by weight. Light naphtha is the fraction boiling between 30 °C and 90 °C and consists of molecules with 5–6 carbon atoms. Heavy naphtha boils between 90 °C and 200 °C and consists of molecules with 6–12 carbons.
Naphtha is used primarily as feedstock for producing high octane gasoline (via the catalytic reforming process). It is also used in the bitumen mining industry as a diluent, the petrochemical industry for producing olefins in steam crackers, and the chemical industry for solvent (cleaning) applications. Common products made with it include lighter fluid, fuel for camp stoves, and some cleaning solvents. Light naphtha is also used directly as a blending component in the production of gasoline.