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An important colorless, volatile, liquid solvent with a sweet odor. Acetone is obtained as a byproduct of wood distillation or the fermentation of corn mash. It has been known since the 19th century where it was used as a solvent for paints, varnishes, and many of the newly developed plastics. Acetone was also used for dyeing Cotton with Aniline black and dewaxing oils. It will dissolve many common materials such as plastic eyeglasses, nail polish, adhesive tape, pens, rayon, plastic containers, inks, dyes, photographic film, waxes, Shellac, rubbers, and coatings.

Synonyms and Related Terms

dimethylketone; dimethylketal; ketopropane; 2-propanone; Acetona (Port.);


  • Highly flammable with a low flash point (-18C).
  • Overexposure can cause skin, eye, nose and throat irritation, headache and dizziness.
  • Ingestion causes vomiting.
  • ThermoFisher: SDS
  • EPA lists acetone as hazardous waste due to ignitability; concentrations over 10% must be disposed of appropriately

Physical and Chemical Properties

Miscible with water, ethanol, dimethylformamide, chloroform, ether and most oils.

Composition CH3COCH3
CAS 67-64-1
Melting Point -94 C
Density 0.788 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 58.08
Refractive Index 1.3591
Boiling Point 56.5 C


Properties of Common Solvents

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p.9
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: ref. index=1.3591
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: ref. index=1.357