Is acetone used in drugs

Is acetone used in drugs DEFAULT



-- 10:57, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)I need to know who discovered acetone. I need this for a report and have not been able to find it. Does anyone know?

I suspect the answer which you're seeking is Chaim Weizmann, who didn't actually discover it, but did discover a cheap method of making it for the British in WWI. Weizmann is also famous for being the first president of Israel. -- DrBob

Answer: no one in recorded history. See Alchemy, and Lead(II) Acetate (made from vinegar), and ancient Laquer Ware. Article needs a historical section, or at least mention of alchemist's methods under "older". (talk) 04:27, 10 March 2013 (UTC)[]


Acetone seems to be good for cleaning glass and removing sticky adhesives from same. I wonder how good it is for thinning a touch up primer that is now too thick.. I do not know if acetone was originally an ingredient.

Acetone is a solvent with a high vapour pressure and low boiling point. If you add it to your primer, it will definately make it thinner and will likely disperse evenly, as it is miscible with every other common solvent. However you may get streaking when you try to apply your paint, as you might get a chromatographic effect when you apply it to paper -- it will take some of the ingredients which dissolve well in acetone but do not adsorb well to your surface and carry them farther than components of your primer which either adsorb well to the surface or are not very soluble themselves in acetone. Try a small amount first, then try a small patch, to see if you get the ratio right and if it affects performance. Sewercockroach 22:03, 12 July 2007 (UTC) It can also be used as cleaning for defeaced currencies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:23, 11 March 2014 (UTC)[]


It appears that the picture of the chemical formula is broken, since it only shows 3 bonds and one Oxygen atom for me, and the chemical formula is much more complex.

This is a standard abbreviated diagram, commonly used in organic chemistry to avoid writing CH/CH2/CH3 over and over. To interpet such diagrams, everywhere there's an unlabelled vertex put a carbon atom, and any unused carbon valences get a hydrogen atom. Securiger 13:52, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Well, to those people who have a basic knowledge of chemistry but aren't familiar with the conventions of organic chemistry it appears broken. This needs a link to a page telling people about this convention (is there such a page?)
~ender 2005-02-24 22:58:MST

The image that is displayed is the skeletal formula. It only shows the bonds between Carbon atoms, as well as other atoms or functional groups, with the exception of hydrogen. It is to show the basic shape of the molecule. Wherever there is a vertex without a label, it is a carbon atom.

DrBob, I'm interested in the cheap method of manufacture, where did you get the information on Weizmann?

-- ~ender, 2005-02-12 12:03:MST

From Talk:Propanone[edit]

I will be moving this page back soon to its original location as acetone. Wikipedia policy states that "use the style of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) for chemical names wherever possible, except in article titles, where the common name should be used if different, followed by mention of the IUPAC name." Acetone is such a common chemical and it is nearly always referred to by that name, even in chemical catalogues. IUPAC recognises this, and allows use of acetone as a name].

A Google search for acetone generates 1,100,000 hits. Propanone generates 41,000.

I will move the page back tomorrow once people have had a chance to comment. Walkerma 20:26, 12 May 2005 (UTC)[]

Most of the history for this page is to be found under the acetone page. No evidence was presented before the edit-move to support the claim that "Acetone is no longer the officially recognised name of propanone." Walkerma 04:49, 14 May 2005 (UTC)[]

I agree, acetone is the correct title. Just one comment, this appears to have been a cut-and-paste move with subsequent edits at this name, so whatever you do you will lose some page history. -- Securiger 13:49, 15 May 2005 (UTC)[]

Fuel additive[edit]

(* warning the following section is hearsay *)

In the last few months, there has been some discussion of acetone as an additive in gasoline and diesel to improve performance of those fuels [1]. However, there doesn't appear to be very much scientifically-gathered data out there to support this idea as of yet. In the past, acetone has been a well-known addition to racing fuel, though the recent discussions talk about using it in much lower quantities—fractions of one percent rather than, say, 20% or higher mixes. It's not really clear how the mixing of fuel to have 0.15% or 0.25% acetone can change much, other than primarily cleaning built-up residues out of an engine, unless it acts as a catalyst or something. (Note: evidence suggests the acetone acts as a mechanism to reduce surface tension of fuels. The result is a cleaner, more efficient burn [User:JKS]) Anyway, it's interesting, and I considered adding some notes to this article, but I decided against it for now since the current evidence is so limited. —Mulad(talk) June 29, 2005 00:26 (UTC)

Mulad- I'm not a fuel scientist though I am an organic chemist, so I have acetone instead of blood running through my veins! The science on the website you cite seems suspect to me- if you could change vapour pressure like that you could lower the boiling point of water in a similar way, and I don't think you can. I'd guess that acetone helps dissolve traces of water that might otherwise cause the engine to run less well. Pure gasoline or diesel can only dissolve a tiny amount of water, but rather more if acetone is added- there are commercial additives for gasoline that work the same way. That's my guess. Please let us know if some scientific studies are done on this. Walkerma 29 June 2005 05:12 (UTC)

Walkerma- if you can lower the surface tension of a liquid, it will vaporize more readily. And one way to reduce the molecular cohesion of a substance is to introduce a surfricant. So, the question is, is acetone really a sufricant? Brontus

From what I'm gathering, the common recommendation is about 3-5 oz per 10 Gallons of fuel. Found this on Fark, but I'm not trusting it enough to put my life to it: -- also, some of the links they're showing are dead and forward to unnecessary sites.. so don't bother with those. I did find that in general an interesting, if not accurate read on the subject of using acetone for fuel additives, however. Rickz0rz September 7, 2005 06:17 (UTC)

GS- I've run experiments in my Ford Expedition. I went from 12-12.5 MPG to 15.25MPG. The primary reason for individuals NOT finding success with Acetone in fuel has been the overuse of it. the above recommendation of 3-5 oz per 10 gallons likely would cause a decrease in fuel economy for many vehicles. If you're interested in trying this, start at 1oz and work your way up slowly. Also, be sure to use 100% acetone. My vehicle received the 18%+ efficiency gain with only 1.25 oz per 10 gallons.


In a popular article quoted above, Mr. Louis Lapointe states that greater combustion efficiency is achieved through the lowering of surface tension of the fuel by the addition of acetone (a ketone) or methyl ethyl ketone resulting in a significant increase in fuel economy and lower exhaust emissions. Many aftermarket fuel additive companies have claimed significant mileage increases through better combustion as well. Both gasoline and diesel, comprised of non-polar hydrocarbons, already exhibit very low surface tension. C8, for example has a surface tension of 21.80 dyne-cm compared to water at 72 dyne-cm at 25 degrees centigrade. As a liquid is heated there is a corresponding decrease in surface tension up to the point at which the liquid vaporizes. In a warm, well running engine, the fuel is in vapor phase during the combustion cycle leaving surface tension no part to play as surface tension pertains to liquids, not gasses. During the compression stroke of a direct injection diesel engine, the temperature of the intake air is typically in excess of 1000°F (from compression) before the fuel is injected at more than 20,000 psi while, in gasoline engines, the fuel is vaporized in the ports before entering the cylinders. Needless to say, during the ignition process, the greatly increasing temperatures and resulting turbulence vaporize any fuel that may still be in atomized form. The bulk of the vaporized hydrocarbons that do not oxidize are generally in regions of the cylinder which tend to remain at temperatures too low to support combustion and in areas where the mixture is too lean for the vapor to ignite; an example would be the space between the piston and cylinder wall just above the top compression ring. This amount of unburned fuel, though, is quite small, ranging from 1% to 2% in modern gas and diesel engines. Those that would say that fuel is still burning after leaving the cylinder need to remember that exhaust temperatures measured in the exhaust manifold run between 1000F to 1400F while running at full power when the exhaust is at it’s hottest. These temperatures are far below a gasoline or diesel flame (>3500). Combustion efficiency is affected to a far greater extent by the physics inherent in engine design than by chemistry.

Quoting Chevron Oil: “Combustion catalysts may be the most vigorously promoted diesel fuel aftermarket additive. However, the Southwest Research Institute, under the auspices of the U.S. Transportation Research Board, ran back-to-back tests of fuels with and without a variety of combustion catalysts. These tests showed that a catalyst usually made "almost no change in either fuel economy or exhaust soot levels." While some combustion catalysts can reduce emissions, it is not surprising that they don't have a measurable impact on fuel economy. To be effective in improving fuel economy, a catalyst must cause the engine to burn fuel more completely. But there is not much room for improvement. With unadditized fuel, diesel engine combustion efficiency is typically greater than 98%. Ongoing design improvements to reduce emissions are likely to make diesel engines even more efficient.”]

“Incomplete burning of fuel is insignificant in modern cars. Fuel combustion today typically exceeds 98 percent.” John Heywood, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and an authority on internal-combustion engines.

Using the above figures, if the addition of acetone / methyl ethyl ketone (or any other additive) to the fuel was to produce even 100% combustion, with zero unburned hydrocarbon emissions (which it will not), we would only realize an additional 1% - 2% increase in thermal energy. The diesel engine is about 50% thermally efficient, (gasoline 30%) with 50% of the energy of the fuel available to turn the engine while the other 50% is being shed primarily as heat from the radiator and exhaust. This would leave an increase of .5% to 1% of usable energy that could be applied to overcoming friction in transmission, wheels, radiator fan, etc. and increasing mileage. Assuming our mileage averaged 18mpg, we would realize 18mpg + .5% to 1% = 18.09mpg – 18.18mpg in theory with the practical amount a fraction of that. Assuming acetone addition would provide 100% combustion efficiency, (and there is no scientific evidence to support the assumption that it increases efficiency at all), and not factoring in loss to friction in drive train, etc., the resultant theoretical increase of far less than 0.1mpg would be so negligible so as not to be measurable. Statements such as “Most fuel molecules are sluggish with respect to their natural frequency. Acetone and/or methyl ethyl ketone has an inherent molecular vibration that "stirs up" the fuel molecules, to break the surface tension” are pure pseudoscience and are not found in the nomenclature of chemistry. As a recent study by Cummins Diesel demonstrates, fuel mileage can be affected up to 30% by driving habits alone. How many are expecting to see an increase in mileage after the addition of acetone or methyl ethyl ketone? How much is this expectation affecting driving habits? And how many people are going to report it if they saw no increase and how many will become discouraged and just "forget the whole thing"? How do we account for the people that report a decrease?

(Third party) More science must be done before either position can be verified as the correct one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:34, 10 September 2010 (UTC)[]

Fascinating. I am not a chemist, but my first immediate reaction was that acetone, being a very potent, very aggressive nonpolar solvent, could potentially damage polymer gaskets and seals inside an internal combustion engine, especially once it reaches operating temperatures of 100 degrees C. or higher, if the polymers were not chosen specifically with acetone resistance in mind. I had been accustomed to thinking in terms of acetone as a fuel additive with the purposes of absorbing moisture and removing deposits from fuel injectors, etc., not as a fuel itself.

Otherwise--well, what of the old Weizmann ABE (acetone-butanol-ethanol) anaerobic fermentation process? It produces acetone, butanol, and ethanol in an approximate ratio of 30%-60%-10% by weight. Butanol is already known to be an excellent fuel for internal combustion engines. Could the ABE fermentation mix, just as it comes out of the vats after purification, be a useful motor fuel? How much redesign would the engines require? In these days of "peak oil" and growing worldwide demand, it seems to me that this is worth investigating at the very least. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:26, 25 June 2012 (UTC)[]


"Acetone is listed as a Table II precursor under the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances."

Anyone have information on the specific reason it is listed as a precursor? Are there any particular drugs that people use acetone in making? --Head of the Caligula Appreciation Society 09:36, July 19, 2005 (UTC)

This statement is near the end of the beginning introduction:

Acetone is listed as a Table II precursor under the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances[1]

It would be useful not to have this just be dropped in there without explanation and context. Why is it a narcotic / psychotropic substance, who are the people that abuse it, what are its effect on humans, how does this (solvant abuse?) affect the nervous system to produce the 'high'? If it is just solvant abuse then a link there would be good but I am not sure in what context this chemical is 'illicit' but that is my guess.--ShaunMacPherson 12:59, 12 August 2005 (UTC)[]

I think the key word here is precursor. It isn't a "drug" in itself, it is simply used to make drugs. Of course most things can! You can still buy acetone at many hardware stores in the US (I think!), so I don't think it's considered a serious problem. I tried following the links, and although I found what the convention is, I found no link that tells me the meaning of the phrase "Table II precursor." I can only guess that if you are a Bolivian farmer who has 10 tonnes of acetone in the barn you can now get arrested for it.
Personally I hate having this awkward phrase in the opening section of the article (and several other articles), but I left it in because I assumed it was of great topical interest. I had also noticed the slant of interest in Wikipedia- many psychedelic substances have had full-length articles for a long time, while major commodity chemicals like sodium sulfate had nothing at all! However in light of the fact that
  • It spoils the flow of the article, and
  • If one clicks on the given links to find out what the phrase means, you come to a dead link. (Since it is an incomprehensible phrase by itself, it probably shouldn't be there at all.)
Therefore I'm moving this phrase down to "Uses" (it is NOT a fundamental property or use of acetone), and linking to a definition of precursor. If you have any other suggestions, please give them here. Walkerma 15:10, 12 August 2005 (UTC)[]
Update – I removed the confusing phrase from the article altogether. Reasons are twofold:
  • The definition of what "Table II Precursor" means is unclear. I requested a definition here, but after several months there has been no response.
  • Until the first point is clarified I can't be sure, but as I understand it acetone is NOT an illicit drug like heroin (it's available in most hardware stores in the US over the counter), merely that it can be used (probably as a solvent) for making a major drug. That is probably true of most major organic solvents, and it is not an unusual feature of acetone. Until some explanation is provided of how acetone in particular needs this information, I think it is merely confusing, alarmist and unnecessary. Walkerma 16:58, 1 November 2005 (UTC)[]
    • Indeed, acetone is listed in table II of the said Convention, as a "chemical frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs" and not as a precursorper se. This may lead to regulatory restictions on the sale of large quantities of acetone in various jurisdictions, but for the time being I know of none in the jurisdiction in which I am resident (France, which controls the supply of various table I substances including, for example, acetic anhydride). I support the removal of the information from the article until such time as we can provide a balanced overview of the regulations concerning the supply of chemicals in the major English-speaking countries. Physchim62(talk·RfA) 18:39, 1 November 2005 (UTC)[]

Where are the reference to the chemical handling manuals online? from DOW and SUNOCO and other chemical companies that have been in business, lawsuits, etc...for over 200 years. You think they want to see you and your Parkinson of Prestige of Cutex, cackling with their so called medical associates? You gonna be right there with them..........? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:08, 17 January 2009 (UTC)[]

Uses in drugs production[edit]

Acetone and other solvents are uses in purification of hundred of compounds, because diferent solvents are diferent partition coeficient for each substance. One simplest example: a solution of iodine and water can be almost completely separed adding toluene and mixing. Toluene dissolves most iodine and much less remain in water, and toluene is separed as a other layer. Most alkaloids (cocaine, cafeine, heroin, etc) are extrated from plants with solvent and purified with sequential solvent extrations of remaining solutions.

A Properties Database[edit]

Thanks for these data. I will try to put any new ones on the Acetone_(data_page) when I get a chance. Walkerma 18:14, 21 February 2006 (UTC)[]

Freezing Point: -94.7C Flash Point: -18C Flash Point Method: CC Autoignition Temp: 465C Explosive Limits:

Lower: 2.2 % Upper: 13 %

Refractive Index: 1.355 Density: 0.784 g/cm3

Density Temp: 25C

Vapor Density: 2 Vapor Pressure: 30.8 kPa

Vapor Press. Temp: 25C

Constants of Antoine Equation P = 0.13332210 exp[A - (B/(C+T))], where P is Vapor Press.(kPa) and T is Temp. (C):

A: 2 B: 1 C: 4

Viscosity: 0.3029 cP Surface Tension: 22.68 mN/m Acid Dissociation Constant, pKa: 24.2 Donor Number, DN: 17 kcal/mol Cubic Expansion Coefficient: 12.5 Polarity Parameter, ET(30): 42.2 kcal/mol Acceptor Number, AN: 14.8 10-4C-1 Specific Heat: 29.85 cal/mol K Thermal Conductivity: 0.000428 cal/s cm K Heat of Combustion: 30.82 MJ/kg Dielectric Constant: 20.56 Water Solubility: infinite Hildebrand Solubility Parameter: 10 cal1/2 cm-3/2 Hansen Solubility Parameter:

dD: 15.5 dP: 10.4 dH: 7

Henry's Law Constant: 0.0000388 atm m3/mol Evaporation Rate Butyl Acetate=1: 6.6 UV Absorption Maxima: 270 nm (in MeOH)

Health & Safety Threshold Concentrations Threshold Limiting Value - 8h time-weighted average

ACGIH: 750 ppm NIOSH: 250 ppm OSHA: 1000 ppm ACGIH: 1780 mg/m3 NIOSH: 590 mg/m3 OSHA: 2400 mg/m3

Maximum Concentration for a Continuous Exposure of 15 min. STEL

ACGIH: 1000 ppm OSHA: 1000 ppm ACGIH: 2380 mg/m3 OSHA: 2400 mg/m3

Maximum 30 min. Exposure Concentration

NIOSH-IDLH: 2500 mg/m3 48,400 mg/m3

Odor Threshold: 13 ppm

Toxicity LD50

Oral: 5800 mg/kg Dermal: 20000 mg/kg

Route of Entry: Inhalation, Ingestion, Skin Contact Target Organs: Respiratory System, Skin, Liver, Kidney Carcinogenicity:


Mutagenic Properties: N

Effect on Environment Biological Oxygen Demand, BOD:

5-Day Test: 0.85 g/g

Chemical Oxygen Demand, COD: 1.92 g/g Theoretical Oxygen Demand, ThOD: 2.21 g/g Biodegradation Probability: days-weeks Bioconcentration Factor: -0.4 Soil Adsorption Constant: 1.26 Octanol/Water Partition Coefficient: -0.24 Hydroxyl Rate Constant: 2.26E-13 cm3/molec s Urban Ozone Formation: 0.01 Montreal Protocol: N

Section removed[edit]

I have removed the section "Use as a cleaning solvent" from the article because I think it has minimal significance, it is written in an unencyclopedic style, and it comes across more as instructions on how to clean lab glassware than as a description of acetone itself:

Due to the relatively polar properties of acetone and its high rate of vaporization, it has been used in many university labs as a cleanser for substances in test tubes after working with all manner of organic substances (e.g. cyclohexane, cyclohexene). Acetone is squirted directly from a bottle containing the substance onto the glassware and is (usually) drained into a specially marked organic waste bucket. Acetone is particularly useful because it is inexpensive, is moderately polar allowing it to dissolve a wide range of organic substances, and evaporates quickly. However, care should be used when cleaning test tubes with acetone as acetone is readily absorbed through vinyl or latex gloves and will come in contact with skin where it is absorbed into the skin. If an excessive amount of acetone is splashed onto gloves, remove gloves immediately and wash hands with water before donning a new pair of gloves. Due to its high volatility, acetone evaporates quickly. A quick way of drying wet glassware is to rinse the inside surfaces of the freshly washed item with acetone. Since acetone is miscible with water, any water present will be removed as the acetone is poured out. The remaining film of acetone (containing traces of water) will evaporate quickly on the bench or inside an oven. Also, if you want to speed up the evaporation of the acetone, you can blow the glassware with compressed air underneath a fume hood.

In my opinion, the article could use some expansion in terms of the use of acetone as a solvent and cleaner, and perhaps portions of this section can be used for that purpose. --Ed (Edgar181) 12:47, 6 February 2007 (UTC)[]

The exceedingly common use fo acetone as a cleaning agent in laboratories should definitely be mentioned. Sewercockroach 22:03, 12 July 2007 (UTC)[]

Azeoptropic Information[edit]

Azeotropic data should be either mentioned on the Acetone main page or the data page. Acetone doesn't form azeotropes with dichloromethane or water, but it does with hexane(s) according to Sewercockroach 22:03, 12 July 2007 (UTC)[]

Change redirect from Nail polish remover[edit]

I believe a distinct article should be created for nail polish remover, as not all nail polish remover is a solution of acetone. In fact, many manufacturers avoid acetone nowadays, and some use nitroethane I've heard.

No, I think it needs to be mentioned right here also with the names involved with the mass market introduction of acetone. Names coincidentally like PARKINSON, the disease...ohohoh YOU PIG —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:10, 17 January 2009 (UTC)[]

"Safety" section is useless.[edit]

What are "incompatibilies," chemically speaking? This section needs expansion/explanation. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 11:02, August 22, 2007 (UTC)

Might also be a good idea to reiterate its flammability here 01:41, 2 November 2007 (UTC)[]

User Regarding "incompatibilities". Acetone is a relatively inert chemical and an excellent organic solvent; for this reason, it is used to clean organic laboratory equipment. However, one should avoid using acetone if said glassware is contaminated with bromine, as the resulting reaction will yield bromoacetone gas, a lachrymatory substance. (References: Wikipedia; Macroscale and Microscale Organic Experiments ). Murphy2010 (talk) 05:49, 10 February 2008 (UTC)[]

If you're working with bromine in the first place, you better be able to handle ordinary chemicals safely. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 08:05, 10 February 2008 (UTC)[]

Toxicology sections makes bold statements with zero citations.[edit]

I added "citation needed" links but according to:

at least some of the statements therein are inaccurate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:35, 11 May 2008 (UTC)[]

  • The following also contradicts most of the claims: h; since no sources were provided for several months, I went ahead and removed the unsourced text. -- (talk) 15:02, 25 October 2008 (UTC)[]

awful smell of crack[edit]

is it the acetone —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:45, 22 July 2008 (UTC)[]

Probably not, acetone is really volatile and evaporates away. So it would be something you'd only smell during and immediately after production. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:32, 16 February 2011 (UTC)[]

Medical Disinfectant?[edit]

There's this video where a guy on a fishing boat named Chip Salinger got bit in the hand by a mako shark and the only things they had to treat his bite wounds were acetone and duct tape. Surprisingly, his hand healed normally after the incident. --Arima (talk) 00:20, 8 November 2009 (UTC)[]

Depends. I would not use it, we have better materials today. This study from 1956 says it did help (on students hands - OMG!), but Ethanol was better. Don't try it at home. Use the right products and procedures not just raw-chemicals such as acetone which have different backgrounds and applications. Check virucides for deeper info. KR Done17387349L8764 (talk) 12:41, 26 May 2021 (UTC)[]


The health section appears to cite specific studies but gives absolutely no references. It's as if it was written by a representative of the cosmetics industry. It should be removed if sources are not soon provided. (talk) 19:14, 17 June 2010 (UTC)[]

Perhaps it would be a good idea to link this article to "Ketogenic Diets" or "Epilepsy" somehow, seeing as both are mentioned in the introduction of Acetone, but are mentioned nowhere else in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:31, 9 August 2010 (UTC)[]

IUPAC name[edit]

I don't know which one is correct, but according to pubchem (, the IUPAC name is propan-2-one, not propanone. Does anyone know which one is true? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:06, 12 September 2010 (UTC)[]

The "2" is redundant in this case (there is no other possible propanone), so (I believe) that both are acceptable. Buddy431 (talk) 00:21, 17 September 2010 (UTC)[]
Hi, names vary, see "Other names:" KR Done17387349L8764 (talk) 07:47, 27 May 2021 (UTC)[]

odor smell taste[edit]

Please add information about the odor / smell / taste of acetone.- (talk) 23:55, 27 September 2010 (UTC)[]

Done. --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 21:53, 7 January 2020 (UTC)[]
Hi, "Pungent, irritating, floral, cucumber like" is without reference. It ready "fruity odor" in this reference. KR 17387349L8764 (talk) 08:00, 27 May 2021 (UTC)[]

Amount produced[edit]

In the first paragraph of this article (at the very top of the page) it says: "More than 3 million tonnes are produced annually, mainly as a precursor to polymers.[2]" Is this amount for worldwide, or is it for the United States of America? This should be clarified. If it is the latter, for the USA, one should be reminded that this is "", not ""... A lot of English language written material on the web is about the US, without this being pointed out, which IMHO writers should change as this is the Internet, not "America Online". After all, English is used daily in a lot of countries around the world, from Asia to Africa, Europe and America... Hope somebody can check the article referred to[2] and clarify the text! Thanks! Peapeam (talk) 05:41, 30 December 2010 (UTC)[]

Updated to recent numbers. The logic above reads odd as you blame your own assumption (on the US production). Materialscientist (talk) 06:22, 30 December 2010 (UTC)[]

Use as a skin defatting agent[edit]

Hey, I don't ever edit Wikipedia so sorry about the formatting here. But that's why I edited the talk page, not the main one :)

The entire section on "medical uses" is pretty sketchy. Note that "defatting (medical)" on this encyclopedia, while a stub, is better cited and notes defatting as a thing to be avoided.

And for those of us who have worked with acetone, you definitely DON'T want your skin all dried out using it!

The whole uncited "ancient Egypt" thing sounds like some kind of unfounded alternative medicine BS, and the "Prior to chemexfoliation, the skin should be cleaned properly and excess fat removed" is unencyclopedic.

Beyond the "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." there is little of value in the entire section. At the least, it should probably be merged with another section (Niche uses maybe) and more likely is appropriate for removal.

If (as I see on this talk page) acetone as a lab equipment cleaner (something that legitimately does happen, all the time - as could be cited from any undergraduate OChem lab manual) is not appropriate for the page, then certainly its use as a medical defatter isn't.

There's clearly some disconnect between that section and the rest of the article anyway, since the ketogenic diet referred to elsewhere in the article is obviously a medical use.

Requested move[edit]

Acetone → Propanone — Propanone is the preferred IUPAC name. (talk) 01:29, 17 February 2011 (UTC)[]

Much less used name, no matter IUPAC. Unrealistic move. Materialscientist (talk) 01:32, 17 February 2011 (UTC)[]
  • Oppose per WP:COMMONNAME. ChemNerd (talk) 17:33, 17 February 2011 (UTC)[]
  • Oppose, WP uses the commonly used names and even IUPAC recognises that acetone is the usual name. Propanone should be a redirect to acetone, in case anyone searches the PIN, but that is all. EdChem (talk) 19:58, 17 February 2011 (UTC)[]
  • Oppose since acetone is the preferred name. Brammers (talk/c) 20:29, 17 February 2011 (UTC)[]

"Solvent Use" confusion[edit]

I was reading through the article and the "Solvent Use" section confused me. It said "Acetone is a good solvent for most plastics and synthetic fibers including those used in laboratory bottles made of polystyrene, polycarbonate and some types of polypropylene." Does that mean that it dissolves laboratory bottles? If so, that's false since there are several wash bottles in the lab that I use that have acetone in them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by AlejoM (talk • contribs) 18:43, 16 October 2011 (UTC)[]

Nalgene ref is bad and sentence is misleading. Not sure that "good" should be applied regarding polycarbonate, and definitely not for polypropylene. The fact that a material is swelled and hence not recommended for storing (depending on mol. wt) does not mean its a good solvent. See Tetrahydrafuran, Chloroform, and Tetralin regarding polypropylene. (talk) 05:06, 10 March 2013 (UTC)[]

marker remover[edit]

which acetone product would best to remove magic marker from jeans and shirts? and won't cause extra problems — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mrp8196 (talk • contribs) 23:38, 22 October 2011 (UTC)[]


Does anyone know why it's called 'acetone' when acetic acid and acetate only have two carbon atoms, rather than acetone's three? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Oolong (talk • contribs) 16:07, 20 October 2014 (UTC)[]

  • Really it should be titled Propanone, since that's the IUPAC name, with a redirect from Acetone and mention of "also known as" in the first sentence. Surely all these articles should use official nomenclature? Jaredjeya (talk) 21:33, 20 October 2014 (UTC)[]


The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Acetone/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

I know this is a free society but it makes me uncomfortable to have this information so freely available to every ding dong who is free to reference it. I wish there were a way to stop this from being displayed but then that just lead to sactions in other areas and where will such filtering stop? Just thought i would voice my frustrations.

I still thank America for being the country she is and how we enjoy our many freedoms so far.

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS. Seriously, acetone? Should the stuff not be widely available either? People knowing about it - acetone peroxide in specific, I guess? - is by no means a bad thing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:26, 16 February 2011 (UTC)[]

Last edited at 08:27, 16 February 2011 (UTC). Substituted at 06:35, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

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Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot(Report bug) 23:51, 25 June 2017 (UTC)[] down for maintenance[edit]

I got this message: "We're sorry, but is unavailable this weekend, Saturday and Sunday April 14-15 2018, due to infrastructure maintenance. We expect it to be available by Monday, 07:30 EDT, April 16, 2018" accessing It was still Friday in my time zone.User-duck (talk) 07:04, 14 April 2018 (UTC)[]

It's working again, 2021... KR Done17387349L8764 (talk) 07:44, 27 May 2021 (UTC)[]

What about chemical properties?[edit]

This compound has a rich chemistry, and yet there is not even a "Chemistry" section in the article. --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 21:57, 7 January 2020 (UTC)[]

Name discussion[edit]

Why was it named "acetone"? Acetone and propanone sounds like different compounds. Acetone has 3 carbons but it has a name like it should have 2. As i heard from somewhere it was previously "aketon" and meant "derived from acetic acid". Why wasn't it changed to propanone? — Preceding unsigned comment added by LeticiaLL (talk • contribs) 10:00, 19 January 2020 (UTC) I found it was meant "daughter of vinegar". — Preceding unsigned comment added by LeticiaLL (talk • contribs) 10:21, 19 January 2020 (UTC)[]


Main article reads "it is considered by the EU as a contributor to environmental pollution.[citation needed]" - checking EU ECHA, reads "Due to the ready biodegradability of acetone and its low log Kow (-0.24) the substance is not classified as dangerous/hazardous for the environment according to Directive 67/548/EEC and according to the Regulation (EC) 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP Regulation):"; I don't conclude with this short analysis it is not a pollutant, this is not my job, but it was asking for citation and this is one source. I'm not changing the main article, I have other topics. KR 17387349L8764 (talk) 12:44, 26 May 2021 (UTC)[]


Problems Loom in Effort to Control Use of Chemicals for Illicit Drugs

See the article in its original context from
October 24, 1989, Section C, Page 1Buy Reprints

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This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.

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FRUSTRATED by the failure to stop the flood of drugs into the country, leaders of America's battle against drugs are seeking to restrict supplies of key ingredients and processing chemicals required to make illegal substances. But many experts believe the effort is doomed to failure by the seemingly endless alternative methods of synthesizing drugs that technically skilled criminals have devised.

Chemists point out that all drugs, including those usually derived from plants, can be synthesized in a laboratory. Economic considerations dictate which drugs are most profitable to make, and chemists say that if coca leaves should ever be in short supply, cocaine could be made entirely synthetically. In any case, illicit laboratories continue to develop new and ever more powerful drugs.

Since March the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency has been phasing in new regulations governing the sale, distribution and exportation of chemicals that can be used to make illegal drugs. Last year the United States also signed, with 79 other nations, an international treaty containing rules about chemicals used in the processing or making of drugs.

Under the new D.E.A. rules, which will be fully in place by the end of this month, transactions involving these chemicals must be recorded by sellers. Records must be open to Government inspection, and if a seller suspects the intentions of a buyer, he must report his suspicions to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Government officials have suggested to sellers that they should be suspicious when they are asked to deliver chemicals in unusual ways. The law does not restrict the sale of any chemicals but, by requiring that all transactions be recorded, it is intended to deter criminals from acquiring chemicals and to make it easier to pursue them after a purchase.

Government administrators say the new regulations imposed by the Anti-drug Abuse Act of 1988 will significantly hamper criminals who manufacture drugs in warehouses, private homes, vans and other temporary locations. But many chemists and pharmacologists believe that the raw materials and processes that can be used for making drugs are practically limitless and that when one illicit process is disrupted, others spring up to replace it.

''Take alcohol, for example,'' said a chemist who asked not to be named. ''You might decide to curb the sale of corn, which can be fermented to make moonshine. But the bootlegger would merely switch to barley or prunes or any of the thousands of natural substances containing carbohydrates. Curbing the precursors of many drugs involves similar problems.''

The chemicals needed to manufacture drugs are so common, moreover, that controlling them poses almost insurmountable difficulties. Cocaine, currently the chief target of Federal drug agents, typifies the problem.

Besides the coca leaves themselves, the criminal needs only a modest variety of cheap chemicals to make pure cocaine. All of these chemicals are used in large amounts for legitimate purposes and are widely available. According to Government and private technical publications that describe the clandestine manufacture of cocaine, the required chemicals are kerosene; ammonia, commonly used to make cleaning agents, fertilizers and synthetic fibers; lime, used to make bricks and mortar; sodium carbonate, used in glass, soap and cleansers; sulfuric acid, used in automobile batteries; potassium permanganate, used in tanning leather and purifying water, ethyl ether, a common solvent, and hydrochloric acid, used for cleaning metal and preparing food products.

The new law provides for regulation of 12 complex substances, or ''precursor chemicals,'' that can be built up into drugs or modified to produce drugs. The law also regulates eight substances, or ''essential chemicals,'' most of them solvents - liquid chemicals in which reactions can take place or from which dissolved substances can be crystallized in pure form. Law Covers Common Solvents

The law now regulates transactions involving several common solvents used for making cocaine, heroin and dozens of other street drugs. The new regulations apply to ethyl ether; acetone, the chemical in nail-polish remover; methyl ethyl ketone, found in rubber cement, and toluene, used in paint thinners.

The law does not apply to domestic sales of less than 50 gallons a month and foreign sales of less than 500 gallons, unless they seem suspicious to the dealer.

But critics say the solvents are manufactured and sold in such immense quantities that it would be practically impossible to detect all small transactions by drug makers.

''In this country alone, 6 billion pounds of toluene and 2 billion pounds of acetone are sold each year,'' said R. Garrity Baker, director of international affairs for the Chemical Manufacturers Association in Washington. ''Our 170 members, which produce more than 90 percent of the basic chemicals made in the United States, will keep the sales and distribution records required under the new law. But it will be up to the D.E.A. to make use of those records in tracking down illicit drugs, and it will be no easy task.'' Chemists Are Critical>

Most chemists avoid making public statements critical of the new regulations. ''Not to go along with the patriotic anti-drug bandwagon can place a chemist under suspicion of being soft on drug dealers,'' one said. ''The truth is, nearly all of us are against drugs, but a lot of us feel the current regulatory efforts are as self-defeating as Prohibition was in the 20's.''

Even if heroin and cocaine were successfully suppressed, new drugs that have entered the street market could become the drugs of choice, some experts say. Some of these substances, which require no natural base like coca leaves in cocaine, are far more dangerous than either cocaine or heroin.

Dr. Gary L. Henderson, a chemist whose expert testimony is frequently sought by prosecutors who also use his expertise in tracking down illicit drug operations, believes that in some cases, anti-drug enforcement may drive illicit producers into switching to exceptionally dangerous substances. Dr. Henderson, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of California at Davis, coined the phrase ''designer drugs'' to describe potent new psychoactive substances created by criminal chemists to skirt existing laws.

''Dangers increase drastically whenever people start concentrating drugs or consuming them in new ways, to increase their potency and value,'' he said. ''Alcohol in the form of beer or wine probably did relatively little harm before we learned how to distill it. People in the Andean region of South America have chewed coca leaves for thousands of years without major ill effects, but now that the drug is being refined as pure cocaine or converted into crack, it causes great harm.''

One such drug, 3-methylfentanyl is a depressant that is roughly 1,000 times more potent than heroin, for which it was mistaken when the first overdose cases showed up in hospital emergency rooms. Dr. Henderson testified at one trial that the defendant, an industrial chemist, had made enough fentanyl in a single, relatively simple laboratory synthesis for up to 10 million doses. The synthesis had required only a few pounds of starting materials, the most essential of which was purchased in a retail store.

Another fentanyl case in which Dr. Henderson testified involved a chemist, Dr. Michael C. Hovey, who had been employed in Delaware by the E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. He pleaded guilty in 1986 to Federal drug charges, but after he had spent a year in prison, the charges were dropped because fentanyl was not illegal when he was arrested. After his release Delaware brought its own charges against the chemist, and last month, a state trooper shot Dr. Hovey dead as he was trying to flee from arrest, the state police said.

An official of the D.E.A., who declined to speak for attribution by name, acknowledged that powerful synthetic drugs made in clandestine laboratories may eventually create large social and public health problems. ''If supplies of cocaine and heroin ever dry up,'' he said, ''some of the new synthetic substances might replace them. Even if the drug lords decide to stay with cocaine and heroin, these substances can be chemically synthesized from scratch, and the day may come when the drug merchants can get along without the natural raw materials, coca and opium. But for the time being, the economics are against it. Coca and opium are still cheap and much too widely available to bother with synthesis.'' Drugs Easy to Produce

Meanwhile, illicit laboratories pour new drugs into the pipeline, and most of these drugs are easy to synthesize, chemists say.

One that has been described in recent regulatory bulletins and in High Times, a monthly magazine read by many drug users, is ketamine, a legal anesthetic with effects are similar to those of heroin. Experts describe ketamine, which is also called ''Vitamin K,'' as a cult drug consumed mainly in the Western states. Since it is not classed as among the most closely monitored drugs that have no approved medical use, it is easier to obtain than heroin.

Another new drug, ''Eu4ia'' (pronounced euphoria), is an amphetamine-like stimulant made from materials found in some legal pharmaceuticals, notably diet aids. Eu4ia might gain a foothold as a cocaine substitute if cocaine should ever become scarce, Dr. Henderson said.

A new drug that has caused particular concern in Hawaii and a few Western states is a form of methamphetamine produced as large crystals that can be smoked. The new drug, dubbed ''ice,'' produces violent symptoms that are sometimes indistinguishable from those of acute paranoid schizophrenia.

Chemists say that all the methamphetamine drugs can be synthesized using the common drug ephedrine, an ingredient in many over-the-counter cold remedies. Criticism of New Law

The new Federal law makes ephedrine a regulated chemical, bulk sales of which must be recorded. But some public officials believe the law will have little practical effect.

Representative Vic Fazio, Democrat of California, recently complained about the ephedrine situation to William K. Bennett, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. ''Unfortunately it appears the new Federal law will have little impact in California, which has far more stringent restrictions already in place,'' Mr. Fazio wrote. Despite these restrictions, he said, there has been a proliferation of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in Sacramento. Since neighboring states exercise no control over ephedrine sales, he said, criminals in California merely buy what they need over the state line.

In many countries abroad, drug makers use over-the-counter remedies as starting materials for potent drugs. In New Zealand, for example, criminals have devised a chemical technique for extracting the codeine from a popular brand of cold tablets and converting it into a crude form of heroin.

Chemical experts agree that the laboratory synthesis of potent drugs requires relatively little technical education.

''If you have to devise a synthesis method from scratch, you have to go into the chemical literature available from libraries and know what you're doing,'' a chemist said. ''But you don't need to know much if you're just following a recipe. You can buy recipes for almost anything you want to make, just as you can buy precursor chemicals on the black market.''

Phencyclidine, or ''angel dust,'' is made by mixing ingredients in three buckets, he said, and the mixing process, which produces fumes, has to continue for several hours. The procedure is often carried out in the back of a rented van that is kept moving to disperse the fumes and to avoid notice. Because practitioners must constantly pour chemicals from one bucket to another, they have become known as ''bucket chemists.''

Difficult as it is for the United States to curb drug manufacture at home, it is still harder to affect drug production abroad. A treaty aimed at restraining international drug traffic, including chemical used in producing drugs, was signed in 1988 by 80 nations, but it has yet to be ratified by most of them.

Robert T. Angarola, a Washington lawyer and former White House counsel on drug abuse, said he believed most nations would finally ratify at least parts of the treaty. But he acknowledged that some nations with large international chemical industries, notably Switzerland, may remain aloof from the effort. Increased regulation increases the manufacturing costs and reduces competitive advantage. The giant Swiss companies are reluctant to accept such burdens. ''The real problem drug enforcers face is one of economics,'' a chemist said. ''As long as it is possible to become rich by carrying out a simple laboratory operation - perhaps just doing it once or twice in a lifetime - there will be temptation. Very few chemists betray their profession. But I'm afraid the drug dealers will always be able to hire enough professional talent to keep business booming.''

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CVS Pharmacies, Nail Polish Remover and Crystal Meth Addiction

For a long time, pharmacies have had to be aware of what people buy, at least as it pertains to products that could potentially be used to induce a high. Objects like spray paint, glue, keyboard cleaner and even whipped cream have all been identified as recreational drugs in the wrong hands. Recently, a new and unexpected item has been added to the watch list: nail polish remover.[1]

Nail polish removers that contain acetone are widely used in the making of crystal meth, and cashiers at pharmacies and other retail outlets are being encouraged to make smart choices about to whom they sell nail polish remover and in what amounts. In fact, CVS, a popular United States pharmacy chain, recently wrote a requirement concerning nail polish remover into its policy: clerks must scan the IDs of all people who buy the product and keep track of how often they buy more nail polish remover and other products containing acetone. Suspicious behavior can be reported to local authorities in an effort to fight against drug manufacturing, distribution and addiction.[2]

Not Just Nail Polish Remover

While it’s smart for clerks to keep track of shoppers who purchase large amounts of nail polish remover, it’s important to note that nail polish remover isn’t the only commonly used household product that can be used in the concoction of crystal meth.

Other household items that can often be found in crystal meth include the following:
  • Butane lighter fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Drano
  • Ephedrine-containing sinus medications
  • Matches
  • Iodine

Do You Know Someone Who’s Making Meth?

Nail polish remover

If you notice that your loved one is buying many of the above products or stockpiling them somewhere, then there’s a chance that the person in question could be making, selling or using crystal meth.

You are encouraged to confront loved ones about possible use of the drug if you feel that a problem exists. Doing so could save your loved one’s life, because crystal meth, in addition to being highly addictive and carrying a heavy risk of overdose, is also incredibly dangerous to make. Many people die each year due to unsafe attempts at meth labs.[3]

Are you concerned that your loved one has fallen into crystal meth dependence? Treatment can help. Contact us at Michael’s House today at our 24 hour, toll-free helpline and ask the questions you need answered to best help your loved one start the healing process. We can get you connected to the best treatment programs available and even check your insurance coverage for you. Please call now.




Acetone \u0026 Exposure Concerns


Simple ketone

Not to be confused with Acetoin.

Full structural formula of acetone with dimensions
Skeletal formula of acetone
Ball-and-stick model of acetone
Space-filling model of acetone
Sample of acetone
IUPAC name


Preferred IUPAC name


Other names

CAS Number

3D model (JSmol)


Beilstein Reference

ECHA InfoCard100.000.602Edit this at Wikidata
EC Number

Gmelin Reference



RTECS number
UN number1090

CompTox Dashboard(EPA)


  • InChI=1S/C3H6O/c1-3(2)4/h1-2H3 checkY
  • InChI=1/C3H6O/c1-3(2)4/h1-2H3



Chemical formula

Molar mass58.080 g·mol−1
Appearance Colourless liquid
OdorPungent, irritating, floral, cucumber like
Density0.7845 g/cm3 (25 °C)
Melting point −94.7 °C (−138.5 °F; 178.5 K)[12]
Boiling point 56.05 °C (132.89 °F; 329.20 K)[12]

Solubility in water

SolubilityMiscible in benzene, diethyl ether, methanol, chloroform, ethanol[8]
log P−0.16[9]
Vapor pressure
  • 9.39 kPa (0 °C)
  • 30.6 kPa (25 °C)
  • 374 kPa (100 °C)
  • 2.8 MPa (200 °C)[2]
Acidity (pKa)

Magnetic susceptibility (χ)

−33.78·10−6 cm3/mol

Refractive index (nD)

1.3588 (VD = 54.46)
Viscosity0.295 mPa·s (25 °C)[8]

Coordination geometry

Trigonal planar at C2

Molecular shape

Dihedral at C2

Dipole moment

2.91 D

Heat capacity(C)

125.45 J/(mol·K)

Std molar

200.4 J/(mol·K)

Std enthalpy of

(−250.03) – (−248.77) kJ/mol

Std enthalpy of

−1.772 MJ/mol
Safety data sheetSee: data page
GHS pictogramsGHS02: FlammableGHS07: Harmful
GHS Signal wordDanger

GHS hazard statements

H225, H319, H336, H373

GHS precautionary statements

P210, P235, P260, P305+351+338
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
Flash point −20 °C (−4 °F; 253 K)


465 °C (869 °F; 738 K)
Explosive limits2.6–12.8%[13]

Threshold limit value (TLV)

1185 mg/m3 (TWA), 2375 mg/m3 (STEL)
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):

LD50 (median dose)

  • 5800 mg/kg (rat, oral)
  • 3000 mg/kg (mouse, oral)
  • 5340 mg/kg (rabbit, oral)[14]

LC50 (median concentration)

20,702 ppm (rat, 8 h)[14]

LCLo (lowest published)

45,455 ppm (mouse, 1 h)[14]
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):

PEL (Permissible)

1000 ppm (2400 mg/m3)[5]

REL (Recommended)

TWA 250 ppm (590 mg/m3)[5]

IDLH (Immediate danger)

2500 ppm[5]
Related compounds

Related compounds

Supplementary data page

Structure and

Refractive index (n),
Dielectric constant (εr), etc.


Phase behaviour

Spectral data


Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).

checkY verify (what is checkY☒N ?)
Infobox references

Chemical compound

Acetone, or propanone, is an organic compound with the formula (CH3)2CO.[15] It is the simplest and smallest ketone. It is a colourless, highly volatile and flammable liquid with a characteristic pungent odour.

Acetone is miscible with water and serves as an important organic solvent in its own right, in industry, home, and laboratory. About 6.7 million tonnes were produced worldwide in 2010, mainly for use as a solvent and production of methyl methacrylate and bisphenol A.[16][17] It is a common building block in organic chemistry. Familiar household uses of acetone are as the active ingredient in nail polish remover and as paint thinner. It has volatile organic compound (VOC) exempt status in the United States.[18]

Acetone is produced and disposed of in the human body through normal metabolic processes. It is normally present in blood and urine. People with diabetic ketoacidosis produce it in larger amounts. Reproductive toxicity tests show that it has low potential to cause reproductive problems. Ketogenic diets that increase ketone bodies (acetone, β-hydroxybutyric acid and acetoacetic acid) in the blood are used to counter epileptic attacks in infants and children who suffer from refractory epilepsy.[19]


Acetone was first produced by Andreas Libavius in 1606 by distillation of Lead(II) acetate.[20][21]

In 1832, French chemist Jean-Baptiste Dumas and German chemist Justus von Liebig determined the empirical formula for acetone.[22][23] In 1833, the French chemist Antoine Bussy named acetone by adding the suffix -one to the stem of the corresponding acid (viz, acetic acid).[24] By 1852, English chemist Alexander William Williamson realized that acetone was methyl acetyl;[25] the following year, the French chemist Charles Frédéric Gerhardt concurred.[26] In 1865, the German chemist August Kekulé published the modern structural formula for acetone.[27][28] Johann Josef Loschmidt had presented the structure of acetone in 1861,[29] but his privately published booklet received little attention. During World War I, Chaim Weizmann developed the process for industrial production of acetone (Weizmann Process).[30]


In 2010, the worldwide production capacity for acetone was estimated at 6.7 million tonnes per year.[31] With 1.56 million tonnes per year, the United States had the highest production capacity,[32] followed by Taiwan and mainland China. The largest producer of acetone is INEOS Phenol, owning 17% of the world's capacity, with also significant capacity (7–8%) by Mitsui, Sunoco and Shell in 2010.[31] INEOS Phenol also owns the world's largest production site (420,000 tonnes/annum) in Beveren (Belgium). Spot price of acetone in summer 2011 was 1100–1250 USD/tonne in the United States.[33]

Current method[edit]

Acetone is produced directly or indirectly from propylene. Approximately 83% of acetone is produced via the cumene process;[17] as a result, acetone production is tied to phenol production. In the cumene process, benzene is alkylated with propylene to produce cumene, which is oxidized by air to produce phenol and acetone:

Overview of the cumene process

Other processes involve the direct oxidation of propylene (Wacker-Hoechst process), or the hydration of propylene to give 2-propanol, which is oxidized (dehydrogenated) to acetone.[17]

Older methods[edit]

Previously, acetone was produced by the dry distillation of acetates, for example calcium acetate in ketonic decarboxylation.

Ca(CH3COO)2 → CaO(s) + CO2(g) + (CH3)2CO (v)

After that time, during World War I, acetone was produced using acetone-butanol-ethanol fermentation with Clostridium acetobutylicumbacteria, which was developed by Chaim Weizmann (later the first president of Israel) in order to help the British war effort,[17] in the preparation of Cordite.[34] This acetone-butanol-ethanol fermentation was eventually abandoned when newer methods with better yields were found.[17]

Chemical properties[edit]

Keto/enol tautomerism[edit]

Like most ketones, acetone exhibits the keto–enol tautomerism in which the nominal keto structure (CH
2C=O of acetone itself is in equilibrium with the enol isomer (CH
2) (prop-1-en-2-ol). In acetone vapor at ambient temperature, only 2.4×10−7% of the molecules are in the enol form.[35] Yet the enol form is chemically important in some chemical reactions.[citation needed]

Acetone KetoEnol.svg

Aldol condensation[edit]

In the presence of suitable catalysts, two acetone molecules also combine to form the compound diacetone alcohol(CH
2, which on dehydration gives mesityl oxide(CH
2. This product can further combine with another acetone molecule, with loss of another molecule of water, yielding phorone and other compounds.[citation needed]


One might expect acetone to also form polymers and (possibly cyclic) oligomers of two types. In one type, units could be acetone molecules linked by ether bridges –O– derived by from the opening of the double bond, to give a polyketal-like (PKA) chain [–O–C(CH
2–]n. The other type could be obtained through repeated aldol condensation, with one molecule of water removed at each step, yielding a poly(methylacetylene) (PMA) chain [–CH=C(CH

PKA type[edit]

The conversion of acetone to a polyketal (PKA) would be analogous to the formation of paraformaldehyde from formol, and of trithioacetone from thioacetone. In 1960, Kargin, Kabanov and others observed that the thermodynamics of this process is unfavourable for liquid acetone, so that it (unlike thioacetone and formol) is not expected to polymerise spontaneously, even with catalysts. However, they observed that the thermodynamics became favourable for crystalline solid acetone at the melting point (−96 °C). They claimed to have obtained such a polymer (a white elastic solid, soluble in acetone, stable for several hours at room temperature) by depositing vapor of acetone, with some magnesium as a catalyst, onto a very cold surface.[37]

In 1962, Wasaburo Kawai reported the synthesis of a similar product, from liquid acetone cooled to −70 to −78 °C, using n-butyl lithium or triethylaluminium as catalysts. He claimed that the infraredabsorption spectrum showed the presence of –O– linkages but no C=O groups.[38] However, conflicting results were obtained later by other investigators.[36]

Structure of possible acetone polymer

PMA type[edit]

The PMA type polymers of acetone would be equivalent to the product of polymerisation of propyne, except for a keto end group.[36]


See also: Ketosis


Small amounts of acetone are produced in the body by the decarboxylation of ketone bodies. Certain dietary patterns, including prolonged fasting and high-fat low-carbohydrate dieting, can produce ketosis, in which acetone is formed in body tissue. Certain health conditions, such as alcoholism and diabetes, can produce ketoacidosis, uncontrollable ketosis that leads to a sharp, and potentially fatal, increase in the acidity of the blood. Since it is a byproduct of fermentation, acetone is a byproduct of the distillery industry.[citation needed]

Acetone can be produced from the oxidation of ingested isopropanol, or from the spontaneous/enzymatic breakdown of acetoacetate (a ketone body) in ketotic individuals.[citation needed]


Although some biochemistry textbooks and current research publications[39] indicate that acetone cannot be metabolized, there is evidence to the contrary. It can then be metabolized either by CYP2E1 via methylglyoxal to D-lactate and pyruvate, and ultimately glucose/energy, or by a different pathway via propylene glycol to pyruvate, lactate, acetate (usable for energy) and propionaldehyde.[40][41][42]



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.[16]


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 or soldering, and to remove rosin flux after soldering (to prevent adhesion of dirt and electrical leakage and perhaps corrosion or for cosmetic reasons), although it attacks many electronic components (for example polystyrene capacitors) so it is unsuitable for cleaning many circuit boards.[citation needed]

Acetylene carrier[edit]

Although itself flammable, acetone is used extensively as a solvent for the safe transportation and storage 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 litre of acetone can dissolve around 250 litres of acetylene at a pressure of 10 bars (1.0 MPa).[43][44]

Chemical intermediate[edit]

Acetone is used to synthesizemethyl 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=C(CH3)CO2CH3 + NH3

The third major use of acetone (about 20%)[16] 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.[17]

2 (CH3)2CO → (CH3)2C(OH)CH2C(O)CH3

Condensation with acetylene gives 2-methylbut-3-yn-2-ol, precursor to synthetic terpenes and terpenoids.[citation needed]



Spectroscopy techniques are useful when the sample being tested is pure, or a very common mixture. When an unknown mixture is being analyzed it must be broken down into its individual parts. Chromatography techniques can be used to break apart mixtures into their components allowing for each part to be analyzed separately.

Thin layer chromatography (TLC) is a quick alternative to more complex chromatography methods. TLC can be used to analyze inks and dyes by extracting the individual components.[45] This can be used to investigate notes or fibers left at the scene since each company's product is slightly different and those differences can be seen with TLC. The only limiting factor with TLC analysis is the necessity for the components to be soluble in whatever solution is used to carry the components up the analysis plate.[45] This solution is called the mobile phase.[45] The forensic chemist can compare unknowns with known standards by looking at the distance each component travelled.[45] This distance, when compared to the starting point, is known as the retention factor (Rf) for each extracted component.[45] If each Rf value matches a known sample, that is an indication of the unknown's identity.[45]

High-performance liquid chromatography can be used to extract individual components from a mixture dissolved in a solution. HPLC is used for nonvolatile mixtures that would not be suitable for gas chromatography.[46] This is useful in drug analysis where the pharmaceutical is a combination drug since the components would separate, or elute, at different times allowing for the verification of each component.<[47] The eluates from the HPLC column are then fed into various detectors that produce a peak on a graph relative to its concentration as it elutes off the column. The most common type of detector is an ultraviolet-visible spectrometer as the most common item of interest tested with HPLC, pharmaceuticals, have UV absorbance.<[48]

Gas chromatography (GC) performs the same function as liquid chromatography, but it is used for volatile mixtures. In forensic chemistry, the most common GC instruments use mass spectrometry as their detector.[49] GC-MS can be used in investigations of arson, poisoning, and explosions to determine exactly what was used. In theory, GC-MS instruments can detect substances whose concentrations are in the femtogram (10−15) range.[50] However, in practice, due to signal-to-noise ratios and other limiting factors, such as the age of the individual parts of the instrument, the practical detection limit for GC-MS is in the picogram (10−12) range.[51] GC-MS is also capable of quantifying the substances it detects; chemists can use this information to determine the effect the substance would have on an individual. GC-MS instruments need around 1,000 times more of the substance to quantify the amount than they need simply to detect it; the limit of quantification is typically in the nanogram (10−9) range.[51]

Chemical research[edit]

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 tables).[52] 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 can be used as a fluorescent tracer in fluid flow experiments.[53]

Acetone is used to precipitate proteins.[54] Alternatives for protein precipitation are trichloroacetic acid or ethanol.[citation needed]


Low-grade acetone is also commonly used in academic laboratory settings as a glassware rinsing agent for removing residue and solids before a final wash.[55] Acetone leaves a small amount of residue on a surface when dried that is harmful to surface samples.[citation needed]

Low-temperature bath[edit]

A mixture of acetone and dry ice is a popular cooling bath that maintains a temperature of −78 °C as long as there is some dry ice left.[56]


Acetone is used in the field of pathology to find lymph nodes in fatty tissues for tumor staging (such as looking for lymph nodes in the fat surrounding the intestines).[57] This helps dissolve the fat, and hardens the nodes, making finding them easier.[58]

Acetone also used for destainingmicroscope slides of certain stains.[59]

Lewis base properties[edit]

Acetone is a weak Lewis base that forms adducts with soft acids like I2 and hard acids like phenol. Acetone also forms complexes with divalent metals.[60][61]


Drug solvent and excipient[edit]

Acetone is used as a solvent by the pharmaceutical industry and as a denaturant in denatured alcohol.[62] Acetone is also present as an excipient in some pharmaceutical drugs.[63]

Skin defatting[edit]

Dermatologists use acetone with alcohol for acne treatments to chemically peel dry skin. Common agents used today for chemical peeling 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]


Acetone has been shown to have anticonvulsant effects in animal models of epilepsy, in the absence of toxicity, when administered in millimolar concentrations.[64] It has been hypothesized that the high-fat low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet used clinically to control drug-resistant epilepsy in children works by elevating acetone in the brain.[64] Because of their higher energy requirements, children have higher acetone production than most adults – and the younger the child, the higher the expected production. This indicates that children are not uniquely susceptible to acetone exposure. External exposures are small compared to the exposures associated with the ketogenic diet.[65]

Domestic and other niche uses[edit]

Acetone is often the primary component in cleaning agents such as nail polish and superglue removers. It will attack some plastics, however.[citation needed]

Make-up artists use acetone to remove skin adhesive from the netting of wigs and mustaches by immersing the item in an acetone bath, then removing the softened glue residue with a stiff brush.[citation needed]

Acetone is often used for vapor polishing of printing artifacts on 3D-printed models printed with ABS plastic. The technique, called acetone vapor bath smoothing, involves placing the printed part in a sealed chamber containing a small amount of acetone, and heating to around 80 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. This creates a vapor of acetone in the container. The acetone condenses evenly all over the part, causing the surface to soften and liquefy. Surface tension then smooths the semi-liquid plastic. When the part is removed from the chamber, the acetone component evaporates leaving a glassy-smooth part free of striation, patterning, and visible layer edges, common features in untreated 3D printed parts.[66]

Acetone efficiently removes felt-tipped pen marks from glass and metals.



The most hazardous property of acetone is its extreme flammability. Acetone burns with bright yellow flames. At temperatures greater than acetone's flash point of −20 °C (−4 °F), air mixtures of between 2.5% and 12.8% acetone, by volume, may explode or cause a flash fire. Vapors can flow along surfaces to distant ignition sources and flash back. Static discharge may also ignite acetone vapors, though acetone has a very high ignition initiation energy point and therefore accidental ignition is rare. Even pouring or spraying acetone over red-glowing coal will not ignite it, due to the high concentration of vapour and the cooling effect of evaporation of the liquid.[67] It auto-ignites at 465 °C (869 °F). Auto-ignition temperature is also dependent upon the exposure time, thus at some tests it is quoted as 525 °C. Also, industrial acetone is likely to contain a small amount of water which also inhibits ignition.[citation needed]

Acetone peroxide[edit]

Main article: Acetone peroxide

When oxidized, acetone forms acetone peroxide as a byproduct, which is a highly unstable, primaryhigh explosive compound. It may be formed accidentally, e.g. when waste hydrogen peroxide is poured into waste solvent containing acetone. Due to its instability, it is rarely used, despite its simple chemical synthesis.[citation needed]


Acetone has been studied extensively and is believed to exhibit only slight toxicity in normal use. There is no strong evidence of chronic health effects if basic precautions are followed.[68] It is generally recognized to have low acute and chronic toxicity if ingested and/or inhaled.[69] Acetone is not currently regarded as a carcinogen, a mutagenic chemical nor a concern for chronic neurotoxicity effects.[67]

Acetone can be found as an ingredient in a variety of consumer products ranging from cosmetics to processed and unprocessed foods. Acetone has been rated as a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) substance when present in beverages, baked foods, desserts, and preserves at concentrations ranging from 5 to 8 mg/L.[69]

Acetone is however an irritant, causing mild skin irritation and moderate to severe eye irritation. At high vapor concentrations, it may depress the central nervous system like many other solvents.[70] Acute toxicity for mice by ingestion (LD50) is 3 g/kg, and by inhalation (LC50) is 44 g/m3 over 4 hours.[71]

EPA Classification[edit]

In 1995, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed acetone from the list of "toxic chemicals" maintained under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). In making that decision, EPA conducted an extensive review of the available toxicity data on acetone and found that acetone "exhibits acute toxicity only at levels that greatly exceed releases and resultant exposures", and further that acetone "exhibits low toxicity in chronic studies".[citation needed]

  • Genotoxicity. Acetone has been tested in more than two dozen in vitro and in vivo assays. These studies indicate that acetone is not genotoxic.[citation needed]
  • Carcinogenicity. EPA in 1995 concluded, "There is currently no evidence to suggest a concern for carcinogenicity". (EPCRA Review, described in Section 3.3). NTP scientists have recommended against chronic toxicity/carcinogenicity testing of acetone because "the prechronic studies only demonstrated a very mild toxic response at very high doses in rodents".[citation needed]
  • Neurotoxicity and Developmental Neurotoxicity. The neurotoxic potential of both acetone and isopropanol, the metabolic precursor of acetone, have been extensively studied. These studies demonstrate that although exposure to high doses of acetone may cause transient central nervous system effects, acetone is not a neurotoxicant. A guideline developmental neurotoxicity study has been conducted with isopropanol, and no developmental neurotoxic effects were identified, even at the highest dose tested. (SIAR, pp. 1, 25, 31).
  • Environmental. When the EPA exempted acetone from regulation as a volatile organic compound (VOC) in 1995, EPA stated that this exemption would "contribute to the achievement of several important environmental goals and would support EPA's pollution prevention efforts". 60 Fed. Reg. 31,634 (June 16, 1995). 60 Fed. Reg. 31,634 (June 16, 1995). EPA noted that acetone could be used as a substitute for several compounds that are listed as hazardous air pollutants (HAP) under section 112 of the Clean Air Act.[citation needed]

Environmental effects[edit]

Although acetone occurs naturally in the environment in plants, trees, volcanic gases, forest fires, and as a product of the breakdown of body fat,[72] the majority of the acetone released into the environment is of industrial origin. Acetone evaporates rapidly, even from water and soil. Once in the atmosphere, it has a 22-day half-life and is degraded by UV light via photolysis (primarily into methane and ethane.[73]) Consumption by microorganisms contributes to the dissipation of acetone in soil, animals, or waterways.[72]

The LD50 of acetone for fish is 8.3 g/L of water (or about 1%) over 96 hours, and its environmental half-life in water is about 1 to 10 days. Acetone may pose a significant risk of oxygen depletion in aquatic systems due to the microbial consumption.[74]


On 30 July 2015, scientists reported that upon the first touchdown of the Philae lander on comet67P's surface, measurements by the COSAC and Ptolemy instruments revealed sixteen organic compounds, four of which were seen for the first time on a comet, including acetamide, acetone, methyl isocyanate, and propionaldehyde.[75][76][77]


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External links[edit]

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In drugs acetone used is

Methamphetamine Research Report
How is methamphetamine manufactured?

Currently, most methamphetamine in the United States is produced by transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) in Mexico.44 This methamphetamine is highly pure, potent, and low in price. The drug can be easily made in small clandestine laboratories, with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medications.

To curb production of methamphetamine, Congress passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act in 2005, which requires that pharmacies and other retail stores keep logs of purchases of products containing pseudoephedrine and limits the amount of those products an individual can purchase per day. Restrictions on the chemicals used to make methamphetamine in the United States have dramatically reduced domestic production of the drug. In 2010, there were 15,256 domestic methamphetamine laboratory incidents—a figure that has fallen over 80 percent to 3,036 in 2017.44 Data on drug seizures indicate that most domestic production of methamphetamine is now conducted in small laboratories that make two ounces or less of the drug using common household items.44

Mexico has also tightened its restrictions on pseudoephedrine and other methamphetamine precursor chemicals. But manufacturers adapt to these restrictions via small- or large-scale "smurfing" operations: obtaining pseudoephedrine from multiple sources, below the legal thresholds, using multiple false identifications. Manufacturers in Mexico are also increasingly using a different production process (called P2P which stands for pseudoephedrine’s precursor chemical, phenyl-2-propanone) to make methamphetamine that does not require pseudoephedrine.

When methamphetamine is smuggled into the United States in powder or liquid form, domestic conversion laboratories transform it into crystal methamphetamine. These laboratories do not require a significant amount of equipment, so they can be small in size and thus easily concealed, which presents challenges to law enforcement agencies.44 Methamphetamine pressed into a pill form intended to resemble ecstasy has also recently emerged, potentially in an effort to make methamphetamine more appealing to people who haven’t tried it before.44 As with other illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine, methamphetamine is also sometimes laced with fentanyl.44

Methamphetamine production is also an environmental concern; it involves many easily obtained chemicals that are hazardous, such as acetone, anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer), ether, red phosphorus, and lithium. Toxicity from these chemicals can remain in the environment around a methamphetamine production lab long after the lab has been shut down, causing a wide range of damaging effects to health. Because of these dangers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided guidance on cleanup and remediation of methamphetamine labs.

Nail polish remove with acetone used for meth production

How to Recognize a Meth Lab

The ingredients used to make methamphetamine in clandestine laboratories are generally household products that by themselves present little danger, but when combined can have serious toxic and explosive effects.

If you came in contact with a methamphetamine lab operation, would you recognize it? What ingredients and equipment would be present? What should you do if you find a meth lab?

Ingredients of Meth

Most of the chemicals used to make methamphetamine are not dangerous, but some of them are hazardous. They can include everything from acetone to drain cleaner to cold tablets. Battery acid, paint thinner, and freon (yes, like you'd find in an air conditioning unit) are possible ingredients too. 

If you see any of the above ingredients stockpiled in greater than usual amounts, it could be an indication that someone is operating a meth lab.

Meth Laboratory Indicators

The equipment and processes used to produce meth can also reveal the existence of a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there are some things to look for that may seem innocent enough at first glance, but which may indicate a meth lab is nearby.

Here are a few tell-tale signs:

  • Propane tanks with fittings that have turned blue, an unusual amount of cold pills containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, and coffee filters that are stained red.
  • A strong chemical odor. Sometimes it can smell like urine.
  • Glass cookware or frying pans with powdery residue, bottles with rubber tubing attached and other chemicals. 

Many of the above items are found in normal household products, but if they are gathered together in higher than usual amounts, it could indicate meth production activity.

Recognizing a Meth Lab From the Outside

If there is a meth lab inside a building, there may be some indications that can be observed from outside.

The meth-making process produces strong odors and toxic fumes which the makers will try to ventilate by any available means, even if it means opening windows in cold weather or installing fans and blowers, which makes the smell detectable outside the building.

Meth makers will also dump toxic chemical waste outside which can cause dead spots or burned areas in the grass and vegetation. They also produce a great deal of trash which contains unusual items.

Meth producers are breaking the law, so they will sometimes set up extensive security measures, some of which can be seen from outside, such as video cameras, baby monitors, "no trespassing" or "keep out" signs, and possibly guard dogs.

Meth Lab Occupants May Provide Clues

Sometimes the behavior of the occupants of a house or building can be clues to the illegal activity going on inside. You might see occupants of a building containing a meth lab:

  • Exhibit paranoid behavior
  • Stay inside for extended periods
  • Smoke outside to avoid explosions
  • Have frequent visitors especially at night
  • Take their garbage to another location

What About Shake-and-Bake Meth-Making?

The one-pot or "shake and bake" method of producing methamphetamine may produce a smaller amount of the drug, but it can be even more dangerous. Because of the pressure that builds up inside the containers used, they can explode, badly burning or even killing the meth-maker.

The process uses many of the same ingredients and produces the same trash as a regular meth lab (see above), just not as much of it. The containers used (typically two-liter soda bottles) are left with a brown chemical stain inside.

Because the shake-and-bake method can be done anywhere—even in a vehicle—there is not much evidence left of the activity except the trash left behind and the discarded containers.

What to Do if You Find a Meth Lab

Do not touch anything in the lab area and do not sniff any containers. Do not turn any electrical power switches or light switches on or off. Do not open or move any of the containers with chemicals in them.

Whatever you do, do not smoke, eat, or drink anywhere near a suspected methamphetamine laboratory.

If you come in contact with a meth lab, you should decontaminate yourself and your clothing as quickly as possible, wash your hands and face thoroughly, and call your local authorities.

Cleaning up a clandestine meth lab is a dangerous and complicated process that should be handled by trained professionals. Do not attempt to clean up or dispose of a suspected meth lab yourself.

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What is acetone, and does it have risks?

Acetone is a colorless solvent. Solvents are substances that can break down or dissolve other materials. In the household, people may come across acetone in products such as nail polish remover or paint remover.

Acetone occurs naturally in the environment in trees, plants, volcanic gases, and forest fires. Small amounts are also present in the body. But exposure to acetone can irritate the eyes, nose, or skin. Consuming it can lead to acetone poisoning.

This article examines what acetone is, including its uses, potential risks, and how to use it safely.

What is acetone?

Acetone is a clear, colorless liquid. It is a solvent that can dissolve or break down other materials, such as paint, varnish, or grease. It evaporates quickly into the air.

Acetone is naturally present in trees and other plants, as well as tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust, and landfills. It also occurs in the body. Other names for acetone include:

  • dimethyl ketone
  • 2-propanone
  • propanone
  • beta-ketopropane


Companies use acetone in small amounts to create products that break down or dissolve other substances, such as:

In industry, manufacturers use acetone for a variety of purposes, including:

  • removing grease or gum from textiles such as wool and silk
  • making lacquers for cars or furniture
  • making plastics

According to Addiction Resource, some people also consume or inhale acetone-based nail polish remover in order to achieve a “high”. This is because nail polish remover can also contain alcohol. Doing this is very dangerous, as the chemicals in nail polish remover can seriously damage the kidneys, liver, brain, and nervous system.

Acetone in the body

In humans, acetone is a natural byproduct of the breakdown of fat.

The body can make energy in several ways. The first is by turning food substances such as carbohydrates into glucose. The body then releases insulin, which allows the body’s cells to use glucose for energy or store some of the glucose in fat, the liver, and muscles.

But if a person is not eating many carbohydrates, the body cannot use dietary glucose for energy. Instead, it switches to glucose that was converted and stored for energy reserves, including within fat. If this occurs, the liver will begin breaking down fat reserves. In the process of doing this, the body makes ketones as a byproduct. Acetone is a type of ketone.

Once the body begins producing excess ketones, this state is known as ketosis.

Being in ketosis can be safe or even beneficial for some people. For example, the ketogenic (keto) diet deliberately induces a state of ketosis. There is evidence this can reduce seizures in children with epilepsy, and research into potential benefits for other conditions is ongoing.

But having too many ketones is dangerous, especially for people with diabetes mellitus. High levels of ketones can be associated with an increase in the acidity of a person’s blood. This may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious complication that can cause a diabetic coma or death.

The warning signs of DKA include:

  • dry mouth
  • frequent urination
  • high blood sugar levels

The symptoms that follow include:

  • constant tiredness
  • flushed or dry skin
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fruity-smelling breath
  • difficulty breathing
  • confusion or difficulty paying attention

Risks associated with using acetone

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies acetone as Generally Recognized as Safe. It has a low potential for causing acute or chronic health problems. But it does have some risks.


Acetone liquid and vapor catch fire easily. People should never use acetone-based products around an open flame or while smoking.


Acetone is an irritant, which means it can irritate the skin. For this reason, some people cannot use acetone-based nail polish removers.

If a person is exposed to or inhales acetone fumes, it may also irritate the eyes, nose, throat, or lungs. This can cause:

Severe exposure to acetone vapor may cause damage to the nervous system, confusion, or unconsciousness.


Typically, ingesting a small amount of acetone will not harm an otherwise healthy person. Certain amounts could harm a child, and adults who ingest a large amount of acetone may be at risk for acetone poisoning.

The symptoms of acetone poisoning include:

  • fruity-smelling breath
  • low blood pressure
  • feeling lethargic or drowsy
  • slurred speech
  • slow breathing
  • lack of physical coordination
  • severe headache
  • loss of consciousness

Preventing the risks of acetone poisoning

People can help prevent the adverse effects of acetone by using it safely. This means using acetone-based products:

  • in a well-ventilated space
  • away from open flames or cigarettes
  • away from food or drink
  • away from children
  • while wearing protective equipment, such as gloves and shirts with long sleeves
  • for short periods of time

Always close bottle lids tightly when not in use, and dispose of any cotton wool with acetone on it in a bin with a tight-fitting lid to help prevent fumes from escaping. When no longer using the product, wash hands thoroughly before eating, drinking, or touching the face. Keep acetone products out of the reach of children.

People who work with acetone can take further precautions, such as:

  • installing or using an exhaust ventilation system in the workplace
  • only using the amount of the product that a person needs
  • wearing protective goggles or masks
  • safely disposing of used chemicals

People with diabetes can help prevent ketosis by taking medication as prescribed, regularly checking blood sugar levels, and eating the correct amount of carbohydrates. They should speak with a doctor if their insulin dosage needs to change.

What to do if someone consumes acetone

It is important to act quickly if someone has swallowed or inhaled acetone.

If they have just swallowed the acetone and do not have symptoms yet, use the webPoisonControl triage tool to get expert advice on what to do next. Alternatively, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

If the person becomes drowsy, collapses, or falls unconscious, call 911 or the local emergency number.

If someone has symptoms after inhaling acetone, they should go outside or get fresh air immediately. Ask someone to remove any items with acetone on them and to seal any bottles containing it. Then, ventilate the room well before returning. If this is not possible, call Poison Control for advice.


Acetone is a liquid solvent that can break down and dissolve other substances. Companies include acetone in products such as nail polish remover, paint remover, and varnish remover. Some also use acetone to manufacture plastics, lacquers, and textiles.

Acetone occurs naturally in the environment and the body, though in small amounts. The body produces acetone when it burns fat instead of glucose for energy.

Exposure to acetone fumes can lead to irritation in the eyes, nose, throat, or skin. Swallowing acetone can also cause poisoning. If someone consumes any amount of acetone or has the symptoms of DKA, seek help right away.


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