What is Acetone?

Acetone (alternatively known as Dimethylketone, Dimethylketal or 2-Propanone, UN 1090) is a clear, colorless, liquid chemical with the formula (CH₃)₂CO. It is a flammable, low toxic, water-miscible compound with a variety of everyday uses in industry, the laboratory, pharmaceuticals and the home.


How is Acetone Produced?

Acetone is a naturally occurring chemical which is a by-product of normal metabolic processes in humans, animals and plants. Industrial acetone is usually produced as a by-product from phenol production and is derived, in this instance, from propylene and benzene, which are the main raw materials used to make phenol.

The world annual production of acetone is several millions of tons. It is produced in over 40 different countries including the UK and Europe, Africa and America and is moved around the globe by chemical manufacturers, distributors and stockists.

Storage and distribution

Due to its highly flammable nature, care must be taken to store and use this product. Acetone is stored in contract bulk petrochemical sites or at stockists own premises either in mild steel bulk storage tanks and/or new or reconditioned steel drums or isotanks.

It can be transported by bulk vessels or tank trucks. For transportation purposes, Acetone is classed as highly flammable and irritant and is packing group II, flashpoint -17.8º C. The specific gravity (SG) of acetone is 0.8.

What is Acetone used for?

The uses for acetone are many and diverse. Its primary use is as a precursor to other chemicals. It is estimated that approximately 75% of acetone produced by chemical manufacturers is employed in this way, the most common use being as a precursor to methyl methacrylate, used in the ever-growing plastics and PVC industries. The pharmaceutical industry uses acetone as a denaturant (to produce denatured alcohol).

Of the remainder, around 13% of the world’s acetone production is used by the end user market as a solvent, providing the active ingredient in many cleaning products, nail polish removers and paint/resin/adhesive thinners and various degreasers. Other uses include its employ as an excipient or bulking agent in certain medications and it is also utilised by the high street beauty industry as a component in chemical peels – a process which strips the outer layers of skin away to freshen the appearance.

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