It is insoluble in water,' but readily soluble in carbon bisulphide, sulphur chloride and oil of turpentine.
A fine oil of turpentine is distilled from the crude material; the residue forms a coarse resin.
It thus possesses the same composition as the hydrocarbon of gutta-percha and as that of oil of turpentine and other terpenes which are the chief components of essential oils.
When solid caoutchouc is strongly heated it breaks down, without change in its ultimate composition, into a number of simpler liquid hydrocarbons of the terpene class (dipentene, di-isoprene, isoprene, &c.), of which one, isoprene (C5H8), is of simpler structure than oil of turpentine (C 10 H 16), from which it can also be obtained by the action of an intense heat.
He began his experimental work in 1841 with investigations of oil of turpentine and tolu balsam, in the course of which he discovered toluene.