A common historical example of azeotropic distillation is its use in dehydrating ethanol and water mixtures. For this, a near azeotropic mixture is sent to the final column where azeotropic distillation takes place. Several entrainers can be used for this specific process: benzene, pentane, cyclohexane, hexane, heptane, isooctane, acetone, and diethyl ether are all options as the mixture. Of these benzene and cyclohexane have been used the most extensively. However, because benzene has been discovered to be a carcinogenic compound, its use has declined. While this method was the standard for dehydrating ethanol in the past, it has lost favor due to the high capital and energy costs associated with it. Another favorable method and less toxic than using benzene to break the azeotrope of the ethanol-water system is to use toluene instead.
See also: Absolute ethanol.