Acetone Uses in Daily Life


Acetone, also known as propanone, is an organic compound with the chemical formula ({CH}_{3})_{2}{CO}. It is a colorless compound with a pungent odor that we may encounter while using a nail paint remover. Acetone is chemical of great importance in chemistry because e of its ingredient elements and molecular structure. The negative charge present on the oxygen atom of acetone can attract the partially positive hydrogen atom, forming a hydrogen bond. This property makes acetone a preferable choice of solvent in the industry. For instance, while performing chromatography, acetone is preferred over water because it can dissolve both polar and nonpolar pigments in the analysis. It is important to note that when we dissolve acetone in water, molecules of acetone do not dissociate into ions; however, they get thoroughly mixed to form a heterogeneous mixture. The two methyl groups present in the acetone molecule are non-polar and dissolves the non-polar compounds, whereas the carbonyl group present in the center is polar and dissolves the polar compounds. Another factor that makes acetone a good solvent is its miscibility with other polar compounds, especially water, and several other organic compounds. This allows us to make several kinds of industrial, household, and laboratory solvents based on the required application. Since acetone is very low-toxic, organic, potent, and easily miscible with other substances. Although acetone is a chemical of great importance in the chemical industry, several household items also contain acetone. Let’s take a look at few examples of how we can use acetone in daily life.

Nail Paint Remover

In the modern world, nail polish is widely used to decorate fingernails and toenails. Most nail polishes are a mix of polymers that usually fade away over time due to exposure to other chemicals. A nail polish remover comes in handy whenever someone decides to try a new nail polish or the previous nail polish starts to fade away. The primary constituent in nail polish remover is acetone. It is less toxic compared to methanol, benzene, and tetrachloroethane, which is one of the prominent reasons to use acetone in nail paint removers. This flammable compound dissolves paint by reacting with molecules on the surface, providing electrons from the oxygen present in the carbonyl group. It mixes well with acrylics and paints, and hence, softens them and forms a malleable mixture. While most compounds destroy the surface of paints, acetone gets thoroughly mixed with the paint and cleans it away. It, therefore, minimizes damage and allows easy removal with scrappers and cotton.

Varnish Remover

If you take a look at the furniture present in your house, you may notice that the wood in the furniture looks covered with some sort of protecting film. This protecting film is known as varnish. Wood varnish is almost an integral part of any woodwork. It is a general process defined by the application of a resin substance with a protective role, which also gives the pieces of furniture a glossy look. Nonetheless, varnish also gets old over time and starts to appear rusty and stained. While this problem may not appear in general furniture for a long time, it may spoil the look of a masterpiece made of oil paints. Acetone is one of the most preferable chemicals for removing spoiled varnish. In the case of furniture, a soft and fine-grade steel-wool pad damped with acetone is rubbed against the wood, whereas in the case of oil paintings, acetone is applied with the help of a painting brush. The naturally occurring oils in many exotic woods can weaken the bond of water-based adhesives and finishes and significantly slow the curing of oil and varnish finishes. Acetone’s ability to mix with mineral oils effectively makes it one of the most effective solvents for removing varnish. As acetone is a volatile compound, it removes the mineral spirits and then dries out quickly.

Medicine and Pharmaceuticals


In the pharmaceutical industry, acetone is often used as a solvent in fillers and active ingredients to ensure an accurate dosage of medicine. In fact, acetone was the first antiseptic to be discovered by Joseph Lister.  Active ingredients and fillers use acetone as a solvent to deliver the correct amount of medication each dose; therefore, common drugs tend to use acetone as an excipient. Solvents are chemical substances that can dissolve, suspend, or extract other materials without causing any change to their essential chemical properties. Solvents can be organic or inorganic, with organic solvents containing carbon and inorganic solvents containing no carbon. Hydrocarbon and oxygenated solvents are examples of types of organic solvents that can effectively dissolve many materials. One of the most common applications for acetone as a solvent is the manufacture of medications. It has non-toxic properties and can be absorbed through eating, inhalation, and skin contact. Its chemical interaction produces a rise in glucose synthesis in living cells. At high concentration, it acts as a central nervous system depressant. When it comes to integrating active chemicals and fillers in medications in the form of liquids and pills, this organic substance is the finest solution. Most tablets will be difficult to compress into suitable density if acetone is not used in medication, and so will not entirely dissolve. As a result, acetone is required for effective therapy.


Apart from being an essential ingredient in nail polish remover, acetone is also used in the manufacturing of several other cosmetic products. It is frequently used as a solvent and denaturant in the cosmetic industry. From wet wipes to hair dyes, acetone is a common chemical used in the manufacturing process. In some countries, a mixture of acetone and dry ice is used as dermatological therapy called “slush facial,” which promises to cure common skin problems like acne, melasma, eczema, rosacea, and sunspots. Acetone in small amounts does not usually cause any harm, even if it gets absorbed through the skin and enters the bloodstream. But at high concentrations, acetone can cause extreme redness, irritation, and dryness of the skin. If you continue applying acetone on your skin for a long time, it may develop dermatitis.

Household Cleaner

From coffee marks to permanent marker marks, acetone can be used to scrub off almost anything that is otherwise hard to clean with water. The excellent solvent property of acetone comes in handy when it comes to clean stubborn marks from almost any surface.  In fact, acetone is so good in cleaning that it is often used in laboratories to clean away grease and other residual materials from beakers and glass containers. It is also used to sanitize several tools ranging from surgical blades to razor blades. Acetone also comes in handy while removing off the splattered paint stains from the window’s glass after a home renovation. It can also be used to get rid of the shabbier look that appears after prolonged use of leather products, such as shoes, handbags, wallets, etc. Acetone can dissolve spilled super glue and assist its removal from a surface. With the help of a cotton swab or q tip, one can also use acetone to remove stains from some of the most confined areas like the space in between the keyboard letters.

Rubber Cement (Cow Gum) Thinner


Rubber cement is commonly used in arts and crafts projects, as well as piecing together broken dishes, bowls, and vases. Rubber and contact cement are manufactured from elastic polymers, such as latex or neoprene, or synthetic rubber, that have been dissolved and suspended in a solvent like acetone, hexane, toluene, or even water. Although very useful, rubber cement can start to harden over time and not work as efficiently as it is supposed to work. Acetone is a non-toxic substance that can be used to effectively thin out the rubber cement and prevent it from hardening and clumping.

3-D Printing

Acetone is frequently used for vapor cleaning of printing artifacts on ABS-printed 3D models. The acetone vapor bath smoothing process is placing the printed item in a sealed container with a tiny amount of acetone and heating it to roughly 80 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. The container fills with acetone vapor as a result. The acetone condenses evenly across the component, softening and liquefying the surface. The semi-liquid plastic is subsequently smoothed by surface tension. The acetone component evaporates when the printed part is taken from the chamber, leaving a glassy-smooth part free of striation, patterning, and visible layer borders.

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