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SOLVENTS > Acetone

Acetone (systematically named propanone) is the organic compound with the formula (CH3)2CO. It is a colorless, mobile, flammable liquid, and is the simplest ketone.

Formula: C3H6O, Boiling point: 56 °C, Density: 791.00 kg/m³, Molar mass: 58.08 g/mol, Melting point: -95 °C, Classification: Ketone

Uses :

About a third of the world's acetone is used as a solvent, and a quarter is consumed as acetone cyanohydrin a precursor to methyl methacrylate.


Acetone is a good solvent for many plastics and some synthetic fibers. It is used for thinning polyester resin, cleaning tools used with it, and dissolving two-part epoxies and superglue before they harden. It is used as one of the volatile components of some paints and varnishes. As a heavy-duty degreaser, it is useful in the preparation of metal prior to painting. It is also useful for high reliability soldering applications to remove rosin flux after soldering is complete; this helps to prevent the Rusty bolt effect.

Acetone is used as a solvent by the pharmaceutical industry and as a denaturant in denatured alcohol. Acetone is also present as an excipient in some pharmaceutical drugs.

Although itself flammable, acetone is used extensively as a solvent for the safe transporting and storing of acetylene, which cannot be safely pressurized as a pure compound. Vessels containing a porous material are first filled with acetone followed by acetylene, which dissolves into the acetone. One liter of acetone can dissolve around 250 liters of acetylene.
Chemical intermediate

Acetone is used to synthesize methyl methacrylate. It begins with the initial conversion of acetone to acetone cyanohydrin:

    (CH3)2CO + HCN → (CH3)2C(OH)CN

In a subsequent step, the nitrile is hydrolyzed to the unsaturated amide, which is esterified:

    (CH3)2C(OH)CN + CH3OH → CH2=(CH3)CCO2CH3 + NH3

The third major use of acetone (about 20%)[8] is synthesizing bisphenol A. Bisphenol A is a component of many polymers such as polycarbonates, polyurethanes, and epoxy resins. The synthesis involves the condensation of acetone with phenol:

    (CH3)2CO + 2 C6H5OH → (CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2 + H2O

Many millions of kilograms of acetone are consumed in the production of the solvents methyl isobutyl alcohol and methyl isobutyl ketone. These products arise via an initial aldol condensation to give diacetone alcohol.

    2 (CH3)2CO → (CH3)2C(OH)CH2C(O)CH3


In the laboratory, acetone is used as a polar, aprotic solvent in a variety of organic reactions, such as SN2 reactions. The use of acetone solvent is critical for the Jones oxidation. It does not form an azeotrope with water (see azeotrope (data)).[19] It is a common solvent for rinsing laboratory glassware because of its low cost and volatility. Despite its common use as a supposed drying agent, it is not effective except by bulk displacement and dilution. Acetone can be cooled with dry ice to −78 °C without freezing; acetone/dry ice baths are commonly used to conduct reactions at low temperatures. Acetone is fluorescent under ultraviolet light, and its vapor may be used as a fluorescent tracer in fluid flow experiments.

Medical and cosmetic uses

Acetone is used in a variety of general medical and cosmetic applications and is also listed as a component in food additives and food packaging. Dermatologists use acetone with alcohol for acne treatments to peel dry skin.

Acetone is commonly used in chemical peeling. Common agents used today for chemical peels are salicylic acid, glycolic acid, 30% salicylic acid in ethanol, and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Prior to chemexfoliation, the skin is cleaned and excess fat removed in a process called defatting. Acetone, Septisol, or a combination of these agents is commonly used in this process.[citation needed]
Domestic and other niche uses

Acetone is often the primary component in cleaning agents such as nail polish remover. It is commonly mixed with Aqua, Glycerin, Lanolin Oil, Methylparaben and BHT for this use. Acetone is a component of superglue remover and easily removes residues from glass and porcelain. Make-up artists use acetone to remove skin adhesive from the netting of wigs and moustaches by immersing the item in an acetone bath, then removing the softened glue residue with a stiff brush.

This chemical is also used as an artistic agent; when rubbed on the back of a laser print or photocopy placed face-down on another surface and burnished firmly, the toner of the image transfers to the destination surface.

Acetone can also be used in combination with automatic transmission fluid to create an effective penetrating oil. Brake fluid is sometimes used in place of ATF. These mixtures (usually 1:1) can be useful in loosening rusted or stuck bolts.