Fascinating world of Acetone Structure((CH3)2CO)


Andreas Libavius synthesized acetone for the first time in 1606 by distilling lead acetate. Acetone (Dimethyl ketone), is an organic molecule and a ketone, which is also a volatile and colorless liquid with a fruity odor (similar to nail polish remover). It is also known as propanone and has the chemical formula C3H6O. Acetone’s versatility and effectiveness make it an indispensable substance in fields ranging from manufacturing, healthcare, cosmetics, and household products.

Acetone is formed in the body and eliminated through metabolic processes; it is mostly present in the blood and urine. The humans that have diabetic ketoacidosis, they contain greater amount of acetone then normal people.

In this article, we will explore the wonders of acetone, from its properties, applications, synthesis, and safety measures.

Acetone structure:

Acetone ((CH3)2CO) structure consists of three carbon atoms bonded to each other and one oxygen atom that is connected to central atom through double bond. This planar molecular structure gives acetone its characteristic reactivity and solubility in various substances.

Physical properties:

The physical characteristics of acetone are following:

  • Density: Its density at 25oC is 0.79gcm-3
  • Molecular weight: The molecular weight of acetone is 58.08gmol-1
  • Boiling point: Its boiling point is 56oC
  • Melting point: Acetone melting point is -94.7oC
  • Classification: Ketone, acid
  • Solubility: Miscible with water, ethanol, diethyl ether, and serve as organic solvent for many organic compounds, including fats, oils, resins, waxes, and polymers.

Chemical properties:

Acetone is a versatile solvent and reactant used in a variety of chemical processes and is well known for its high reactivity. Some important chemical properties include:

  • Combustibility: Acetone has a flashpoint of -18°C, making it extremely flammable. When subjected to a direct flame, sparks, or heat sources, it can easily catch fire. While handling and storing acetone, certain safety precautions must be used.
  • Proton Donor: Acetone functions as a weak acid that can give away a proton (H+). It can experience deprotonation to produce enolate ions when strong bases are present.
  • Tautomerism: Acetone is a tautomeric compound, which means it can exist in two different states: the keto and enol forms. The carbon-oxygen double bond is present in the most stable keto form, whereas the enol form includes a hydroxyl group (-OH) connected to a carbon-carbon double bond.
  • Stability: Although acetone is generally stable, it can gradually oxidize when exposed to air, especially in the presence of light and at high temperatures. It is frequently kept in containers that are firmly sealed and shielded from light and heat sources to preserve its stability and lengthen its shelf life.
  • Acidity and Basicity: Acetone exhibits weak acidity due to its ability to donate a proton. It has a pKa value is 19.3. Acetone is a relatively weak base but can accept a proton from strong acids, forming the corresponding acetone acid-base adducts.


Multiple methods can be used to produce acetone, with isopropanol dehydrogenation being the most common. Here is a brief explanation of how acetone is made:

Catalytic dehydrogenation of isopropanol: This is the main method for producing acetone. Usually, the reaction is conducted under tightly monitored conditions and at high temperatures (about 400–500°C). The process involves passing the vapors of isopropanol over a catalyst, usually copper or zinc oxide, which promotes the dehydrogenation reaction. The hydrogen gas produced is usually recycled for other purposes.

The chemical equation for this reaction is as follows:

(CH3)2CHOH  → (CH3)2CO + H2

                                  (isopropanol)     (acetone) + (hydrogen gas)

Cumene Methods: In the cumene (isopropylbenzene) process, cumene is synthesized through the alkylation of benzene with propylene, and then it oxidized to synthesized cumene hydroperoxide, which decompose into phenol and acetone. Phenol is typically used as a byproduct in this process.

Other methods: Although isopropanol dehydrogenation is the most popular approach, other processes, like the fermentation of carbohydrates, can also be employed to produce acetone. This technique, however, is less common and is frequently used for particular applications or in specialized sectors. The fermentation of carbohydrates includes the employment of specific microorganisms, such as Clostridium acetobutylicum, which, while growing on fermentable sugars, produce acetone as a metabolic byproduct. Acetone was traditionally produced using this method during World War I, but more effective chemical synthesis techniques have mostly superseded it.

Versatile Applications:

  1. Industrial use: Acetone is a crucial solvent in manufacturing processes. It is a well-liked alternative for dissolving paints, varnishes, resins, and adhesives since it works well as a solvent for a variety of organic compounds. It also facilitates in the combining and dissolving of various ingredients while making synthetic rubber, fibres, medicines, and plastics.
  2. Healthcare and cosmetics: Acetone is a key ingredient in the healthcare and cosmetics sectors. Since it successfully eliminates germs and viruses, it is frequently used as a sterilizing agent in medical settings. Additionally, acetone is frequently present in nail polish removers, which efficiently dissolves nail polish and makes removal simple. Its quick evaporation rate ensures that the nails dry rapidly, making it a preferred choice for both professional salons and personal use. For acne treatments, dermatologists combine acetone and alcohol to chemically exfoliate dry skin.
  3. Pathology: In the realm of pathology, acetone is used in tumor staging as it helps in locating the lymph nodes in fatty tissues. This facilitates the fat’s dissolution and help in hardening the nodes, making detection easier.
  4. Cleaning and Degreasing: Acetone is frequently used as a cleaning agent and degreaser because of its outstanding solvent characteristics. It is a crucial ingredient in many household cleaning solutions because of its ability to successfully remove tough stains, oil, and adhesive residues from surfaces. Acetone is also used to thoroughly dissolve and remove impurities from electronic components, such as circuit boards, without leaving behind any residue.
  5. Chemical intermediary: Acetone is a crucial chemical intermediary used in a number of chemical processes. It is frequently employed as an initial component in the synthesis of many substances, such as isophorone, bisphenol A (BPA), and methyl methacrylate (MMA). The manufacture of plastics, adhesives, coatings, and numerous other industrial goods depends on these intermediates.
  6. Low-temperature bath: Acetone and dry ice are combined to create a typical cooling bath and keep its temperature at -78oC.

Safety Considerations:

It is a very valuable chemical, but because it is flammable and volatile, it must be handled carefully, and safety procedures must be followed. Here are some essential safety tips:

  1. Ventilation: Acetone should always be used with proper ventilation to prevent vapour buildup that could be dangerous to inhale.
  2. Away from flame: Acetone is extremely flammable thus it should be kept away from open flames, sparks, and other potential ignition sources.
  3. Skin Contact: Acetone can dry up and irritate the skin after prolonged or frequent contact. When handling this chemical, it is best to use gloves and keep distance from your skin.
  4. Eye Protection: Acetone can irritate eyes if it comes into touch with them accidentally. Always use safety glasses to safeguard your eyes from the elements.
  5. Acetone should be stored away from heat and direct sunlight in a cold, well-ventilated place. To reduce evaporation, keep it in containers with tight seals.


In conclusion, acetone is a versatile and significant substance in a variety of industries and applications due to its chemical features, which include its reactivity, solubility, combustibility, and acid-base behavior. Its qualities must be understood to be handled, stored, and used in various chemical processes in a safe manner

Is acetone toxic?

Acetone has undergone substantial research, and it is thought to be barely harmful when used normally. If basic safeguards are taken, there is little solid evidence of long-term health impacts. Its minimal acute and chronic toxicity when consumed or inhaled is universally accepted. Acetone is not currently thought to cause cancer, be mutagenic, or have long-term neurological consequences.

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