Sample of Acetone

Sample of acetone


Acetone chemical structure

Acetone, also known as propanone or dimethyl ketone (chemical formula (CH3)2CO) is a popular solvent and useful chemical for lots of organic chemistry, being the simplest ketone.



Acetone is highly flammable.

It will react with halogens to form halogenated organic compounds, i.e. iodoacetone. Acetone reacts very exothermically with household bleach and other hypochlorites to form chloroform.

Acetone will form the unpredictable and dangerous explosive acetone peroxide when oxidized with hydrogen peroxide under certain conditions, such as with an acid catalyst.


Acetone is a clear liquid with very low viscosity that is miscible in water, that boils at 56°C and freezes between −95 to −93 °C. It has a sharp, somewhat sweet, and floral aroma similar to other ketones. It is also miscible in benzene, chloroform, ethanol, diethyl ether and methanol.


Acetone can be found at hardware stores as paint thinners of nail polish remover, either pure or mixed with other organic substances (usually esters).


Industrially, acetone is made via the cumene process, where benzene is alkylated with propylene to produce cumene, which is oxidized by air to produce phenol and acetone.

Before that method, acetone was produced via dry distillation of an acetate salt, usually calcium acetate or sodium acetate.

2 Na(CH3COO) → Na2CO3 + (CH3)2CO
Ca(CH3COO)2 → CaCO3 + (CH3)2CO

Because this reaction occurs at around 400-500°C, temperature above the boiling and autoignition temperature of acetone, it must be performed in an oxygen free chamber (carbon dioxide rich or only atmosphere is sufficient) and because the acetone results as vapors, it must be condensed.

Acetone can be recovered from an aqueous solution by salting out with anhydrous sodium acetate, which is conveniently produced from vinegar and baking soda.



Skin contact with acetone is not recommended, as prolonged exposure can cause defatting of the skin. Acetone's low boiling point of requires work in a ventilated area. While acetone is volatile and while its fumes are not particularly toxic, they can be irritating in large amounts. Acetone however is among the least toxic solvents, and as many studies have shown there are no long term risks in case of repeated exposure.

The main danger of acetone comes from its flammability. Its vapors have a flash point much below room temperature, so air/acetone mixtures can explode or burst into flames easily, even from static shocks.

Never store or discard acetone alongside hydrogen peroxide as it will form acetone peroxide, an extremely dangerous and sensitive explosive.

At 486°C acetone will ignite spontaneously.

See alsoEdit


Relevant Sciencemadness threadsEdit

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