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Uses of Acetone

Last updated date: 26th May 2024
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What is Acetone?

Acetone is a colourless liquid at room temperature with a very distinct odour. Acetone is often used as a solvent, and it is also applied to thinning of oil-based paints and cleaning up of oils. It's used as a chemical additive in nail polish remover, to dissolve paint on glass bottles, and even to start up diesel engines.

Definition of Acetone

Acetone is an organic compound with the structural formula (CH3)2CO. It is the smallest and simplest member of the ketone family, also known as propanone. It is a colourless, volatile, highly flammable liquid used as a solvent in industrial products' manufacture. You can obtain Acetone by heating anhydrous calcium acetate in the laboratory. It is reminiscent of fruit. It is a natural product in the human body due to metabolic processes. It is a manufactured chemical also found naturally in the environment. Pure Acetone contains only the ions or molecules of Acetone. The most common use of Acetone in everyday life is as a nail polish remover.

Uses of Acetone in Daily Life 

  • For the preparation of many compounds such as chloroform, sulphonal(a hypnotic), an artificial scent, cordite(a smokeless powder), etc.

  • For the extraction of essential oils.

  • Conventionally in household products, including cosmetics and natural care products.

  • As a solvent to wash the glass apparatus.

  • As a cleaning agent to remove harsh greases ranging from fabrics to engines of automobiles or other motor vehicles.

  • It keeps your shoes shiny and clean

  • It can deep clean your keyboard and stubborn marks from glass windows and metal.

  • As a sanitiser for beauty products

  • The most crucial use of Acetone is in the medical field in producing pills, tablets, and liquid medicines to maintain the proper density for increasing medicine efficiency.

  • Rubber Cement: Acetone is the main ingredient in rubber cement. It produces a strong bond and sets quickly but can dry out and crack over time.

  • Adhesives: Acetone is often used in glues, pastes, and adhesives because it dissolves the surfaces to which the substance will be applied. Acetone also acts as a thinner for some of these products.

  • Dissolving Agents: Acetone is a good solvent for fats, oils, plastics, and natural rubber. Acetone is used to make paints thinner and dissolve waxes out of cloth.

  • Preparation of Explosives: Acetone can be made from sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and red phosphorus. Since both acetone and sodium bicarbonate are very volatile, a violent explosion will result if the ingredients come in contact with fire or a spark.

  • In addition, Acetone is sometimes added to gasoline as an additive to make it burn more smoothly.

  • Household Cleaner: Mixtures of Acetone, water, and detergents are common in cleaning products meant for wooden surfaces, metal jewellery, glass cookware, and other items. 

  • Nail Polish Remover: Acetone is used to remove nail polish by dissolving the ingredients that make it stick to nails. It works especially well with artificial nails when applied sparingly with a cotton ball.

  • Oil Cleanup: When oil spills into water, a solution of 1 part acetone to 9 parts water can be used to break up the oil and make it easier for natural bacteria to clean up the spill. However, this should only be done as a last resort since other compounds may have an adverse effect on wildlife.

Industrial Uses of Acetone 

  • Acetone is used as a solvent for acetylene, cellulose acetate, cellulose nitrate, celluloid, varnishes, lacquers, etc. 

  • It is added to the natural gas fuel in the petroleum industry to give them better efficiency.

  • To remove the oil content from the water's surface in case of any accidental spill thus, saving marine life, which could have died due to depletion of oxygen.

  • For the safe transportation of highly flammable chemical fuel, acetylene.

  • In the electronic industry for cleaning small electronic gadgets.

Acetone Storage

Acetone must be stored in a jar with a tight lid as it is a highly flammable liquid in a place where there are no stoves or heat-producing sources. Store it in a fireproof container if you have to keep a large amount of Acetone

Safety Tips for Working with Acetone

Acetone can be hazardous to life if not handled appropriately. By taking some simple steps, you ensure a safe environment for yourself as well as for others. The steps you must take while working with Acetone are :

  • Make sure you are wearing chemical safety goggles and a shield.

  • Wear chemically protected clothing like gloves, boots, aprons, and avoid prolonged contact.

  • Make sure the area is well ventilated.

  • Make sure the place is dry enough so that the surface does not soak the liquid.

  • Keep the fire extinguisher with you.

  • Don't mix other compounds or solvents with Acetone.

  • Work in a well-ventilated area, so there is no inhalation of the fumes.

  • Keep the windows open when you paint.

  • Do not smoke or use any type of open flame in the area that is exposed to acetone fumes.

  • Make sure there are no open flames or heat sources near you.

  • Do not store chlorine or bleach in the same location as Acetone.

  • Don't use your acetone container as a wastebasket.

  • Do not try to store Acetone in plastic containers as it will dissolve the container over time and corrode metals.

Laboratory Preparation of Acetone

To prepare Acetone in the laboratory, heat it with anhydrous calcium acetate.

(CH3COO)2Ca → CH3COCH3 + CaCO3

Take the fused calcium acetate mixed with little iron filings in a retort fitted with a water condenser and a receiver. The reaction is gently heated when Acetone distils over and collects in the receiver. The distillate is shaken with a saturated sodium bisulfite solution to purify the Acetone obtained when you obtain colourless crystals. These crystals on distillation with a saturated sodium carbonate solution give Acetone an aqueous solution, which is dried over anhydrous calcium chloride and redistilled to get pure Acetone.

Chemical Properties of Acetone

In the presence of dry HCl, Acetone condenses together to form mesityl oxide, which further condenses Acetone's third molecule to form phorone.

2 CH3COCH3 → C6H10O + H20

C6H10O + CH3COCH3 → C9H14O

Acetone uses conc. H2S04 to give mesitylene or 1,3,5 trimethylbenzene.

3 CH3COCH3 → C9H12 + 3H20

Solved Examples

1. How Can Acetone be Prepared from Acetyl Chloride?

Solution: The best way to achieve Acetone from acetyl chloride in one step is the use of Acetone with dimethyl chloride. Using dimethyl chloride with acetyl chloride gives acetone and cadmium chloride as products.

2 CH3COCl + Cd(CH3)2 → 2 CH3COCH3 + CdCl2

2. How Can Acetone be Prepared from Isopropyl Alcohol?

Solution: Acetone is mainly manufactured from isopropyl alcohol or propane-2-ol from the petroleum industry. To obtain Acetone, pass the vapours of isopropyl over with copper catalyst heated at 573K.

(CH3)2CHOH → CH3COCH3 + H2


All the chemical properties of Acetone are summarised in this article. Acetone has many uses in various industries, mainly the chemical industry. It also has its own hazards when not handled properly, which is why one must take necessary precautions while working with it. With this article, you have gained knowledge about all the different properties of Acetone and how it is prepared in the laboratory.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more articles to come, and feel free to leave your comments or questions in the section below.

FAQs on Uses of Acetone

1. What is the Use of Acetone?

The use of Acetone is many. Acetone is used as a chemical solvent, an active ingredient in nail polishes and dyes, for plastic coating chemistry, an active ingredient in brake cleaners and superglue remover, and an active ingredient for cellulose plastics. One of the main uses of Acetone is in the production of paper. Acetone is used to make cellulose fibres, which are then mixed with other chemicals to produce paper. Students must always keep in mind to use Acetone safely. Have knowledge about Acetone's chemical properties and hazards, which are discussed in the article. Our subject experts at Vedantu help students learn all about Acetone and its safe usage. One should know the chemical properties of Acetone before coming in contact with this substance.

2. List Some Uses of Acetone in the Chemical Industry?

Acetone is used as a chemical solvent. It is also used as an active ingredient in nail polishes and dyes for plastic coating chemistry, an active ingredient in brake cleaners and superglue remover, and an active ingredient for cellulose plastics. Businesses that deal with chemical engineering use Acetone as a raw material for the production of acrylic acid and methyl methacrylate. Acetone is also used in the production of paper and pharmaceuticals. The properties of Acetone make it a pivotal chemical in various industries. It is also used as an organic solvent in the laboratory. Students must understand all these properties of Acetone before using it at their workplace or while carrying experiments at home.

3. Describe the Preparation of Pure Acetone.

The best way to achieve Acetone from acetyl chloride in one step is the use of Acetone with dimethyl chloride. Using dimethyl chloride with acetyl chloride gives butanone, which further condenses to form Acetone. Another way would be to use acetic anhydride with hydrogen chloride.

Acetone is mainly manufactured from isopropyl alcohol or propan-2-ol from the petroleum industry. To obtain Acetone, pass the vapours of isopropyl over with copper catalyst heated at 573K.

4 C3H7OH → 3C2H5 + H2O + heat

Hope this clarifies your doubts regarding Acetone as a chemical. By now, you must have gained significant knowledge about Acetone and its properties, as well as how it is prepared in the laboratory. For more such articles and other help on lab work, feel free to contact our mentors at Vedantu.

4. What are Some Precautions to Take When Handling Acetone?

Acetone is flammable, has a pleasant smell and evaporates quickly. As Acetone is easily miscible with water, it can be used to dissolve many organic solids. Students must always remember that Acetone is highly inflammable and must not be allowed to come in contact with naked fire or hot surfaces. The working area should be well-ventilated, and a fume hood should be at least 2 yards away from the work area. Acetone is known to irritate the human skin and eyes. Students must avoid contact with Acetone and should wear protective gear when handling this chemical substance. This will help them avoid any kind of accidents.

Educational Resources, developed by Vedantu's subject experts, helps students to learn all about Acetone and its safe usage, as well as the precautions to be taken while handling this chemical substance.

5. What are Some Important Properties of Acetone?

Acetone is a colourless liquid with a solvent property. It has a pleasant, characteristic odour. The melting point of Acetone is -94.7 degrees Celsius, and the boiling point is 56.2 degrees Celsius. Acetone has a vapour density greater than air, which means it has the tendency to rise up in the atmosphere after coming in contact with air. Students must always be aware of these properties of Acetone before using it themselves or while working on the lab experiments at home. As the vapour of Acetone has a tendency to go up, it is important for students to remember that the vapours of Acetone are heavier than air. This means that acetone vapour is likely to settle at lower levels in the atmosphere. Acetone being highly flammable gives off irritating or toxic fumes when heated to decomposition. Acetone is an organic solvent with a wide range of industrial and household applications, such as in the production of cellulose plastics, paper and pharmaceuticals.

6. Distinguish Between Acetaldehyde and Acetone.

Acetaldehyde, also known as ethanal, and acetone, also known as propanone, can be distinguished by two tests which are the silver mirror test and Fehling solution test. Acetaldehyde gives a silver mirror with Tollen's reagent and a red precipitate with Fehling's solution. Acetone uses Tollens's reagent and never provides a silver with a mirror nor forms a red precipitate with Fehling's solution.₂₃

CH₃CHO + 2[Ag(NH₃)₂]+OH- → CH₃COONH₄ + 2 Ag (silver mirror) + 3 NH₃ + H₂O

CH₃CHO + 2Cu₂+ + 5OH- → CH₃COO- + Cu₂O (Red ppt.) + 3H₂O

Also, acetaldehyde, on reaction with Schiff's reagent, restores its magenta colour, whereas acetone does restore the magenta colour.

7. Distinguish Between Acetic Acid and Acetone?

Propanone, which is commonly known as acetone, belongs to the ketone family, is different from with ethanoic acid, commonly known as acetic acid with formula CH₃COOH, which belongs to the carboxylic acid family. Besides, you can easily differentiate them as they have a characteristic smell of their own for the group to which they belong. Acetone has a fruity aroma, whereas acetic acid has a vinegar-like smell.

Acetone uses sodium carbonate and does not react with it, whereas acetic acid reacts with sodium carbonate with carbon dioxide's effervescence.

2 CH₃CHOOH + Na₂CO₃ → 2 CH₃COONa + CO₂ + H₂O

CH₃COCH₃ + Na₂CO₃ → no reaction