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Methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) is the organic compound with the formula (CH3)2CHCH2C(O)CH3. This colourless liquid, a ketone, is widely used as a solvent.

MIBK is used as a solvent for nitrocellulose, lacquers, and certain polymers and resins.

Solvent and niche applications

Unlike the other common ketone solvents, acetone and MEK, MIBK has quite low solubility in water, making it useful for liquid-liquid extraction. It has a similar polarity to ethyl acetate, but greater stability towards aqueous acid and base. It can be used to extract gold, silver and other precious metals from cyanide solutions, such as those found at gold mines, to determine the levels of those dissolved metals. Diisobutyl ketone (DIBK), a related lipophilic ketone, is also used for this purpose. Methyl isobutyl ketone is also used as a denaturing agent for denatured alcohol. When mixed with water or isopropyl alcohol MIBK serves as a developer for PMMA electron beam lithography resist. MIBK is used as a solvent for CS in the preparation of the CS spray used currently by British police forces.

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