Acetone is the organic compound with the formula OC(CH3)2, also sometimes known as 2-propanone or dimethyl ketone (DMK), is widely used as a chemical intermediate in the production of other chemicals. Acetone is also one of the most widely used solvents in the world. Acetone is derived from the basic raw materials of benzene and propylene. These materials are first used to produce cumene, which is then oxidized to become cumene hydroperoxide, before being split into phenol and its co-product, acetone. Most of the world’s production of acetone is consumed as a precursor to methyl methacrylate and the production of Bisphenol A, as well as many everyday products including paints, cleaning fluids, nail polish remover, and adhesives.
Acetone is a good solvent for most plastics and synthetic fibres including those used in laboratory bottles made of polystyrene, polycarbonate and some types of polypropylene. It is ideal for thinning fiberglass resin, cleaning fiberglass tools and dissolving two-part epoxies and superglue before hardening. It is used as a volatile component of some paints and varnishes. As a heavy-duty degreaser, it is useful in the preparation of metal prior to painting; it also thins polyester resins, vinyl and adhesives.
Acetone is used as a solvent by the pharmaceutical industry and as a denaturation agent in denatured alcohol. Acetone is also present as an excipient in some pharmaceutical products.
Acetone is used in a variety of general medical and cosmetic applications and is also listed as a component in food additives and food packaging. Acetone is commonly used in the skin rejuvenation process in medical offices and medical spas.
In the laboratory, acetone is used as a polar aprotic solvent in a variety of organic reactions, such as SN2 reactions. The use of acetone solvent is also critical for the Jones oxidation. It is a common solvent for rinsing laboratory glassware because of its low cost, volatility, and ability to form a low boiling temperature azeotrope with water. For similar reasons, acetone is also used as a drying agent. Acetone can be cooled with dry ice to −78 °C without freezing; acetone/dry ice baths are commonly used to conduct reactions at low temperatures. Acetone is fluorescent under ultraviolet light, and its vapor may be used as a fluorescent tracer in fluid flow experiments.