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Acetaldehyde vs. Acetone: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on January 13, 2024
Acetaldehyde is a colorless, flammable liquid used in chemical synthesis. Acetone is a colorless, volatile liquid, commonly used as a solvent.

Key Differences

Acetaldehyde is an organic chemical compound with a sharp, pungent odor, used primarily in chemical synthesis. Acetone is also an organic compound, but it's best known as a solvent and for its use in nail polish remover.
Acetaldehyde is produced primarily by the oxidation of ethanol and is a key intermediate in the synthesis of various chemicals. Acetone is produced through dehydrogenation of isopropanol and is used in various manufacturing processes.
Acetaldehyde has applications in the production of acetic acid, perfumes, and flavors. Acetone is widely used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and plastics industries.
In terms of safety, acetaldehyde is more hazardous, as it is a potential carcinogen. Acetone, while flammable, is generally considered less toxic and is used in everyday products like nail polish remover.
Acetaldehyde plays a role in the metabolism of alcohol in the human body and is associated with hangovers. Acetone, on the other hand, can be produced in the body during fat metabolism and is associated with diabetic ketoacidosis.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Structure


Primary Use

Chemical synthesis

Production Method

Oxidation of ethanol
Dehydrogenation of isopropanol


Acetic acid, perfumes
Pharmaceuticals, cosmetics

Health Implications

Potential carcinogen
Less toxic, produced in body metabolism

Acetaldehyde and Acetone Definitions


Chemical Intermediate.
Acetaldehyde is used in the production of acetic acid.


Organic Compound.
Acetone is produced naturally in plants and trees.


Flavoring Agent.
Acetaldehyde is added to food for flavor enhancement.


Common Solvent.
Acetone is used to remove nail polish.


Industrial Chemical.
Acetaldehyde is important in the chemical industry.


Biochemical Marker.
High acetone levels can indicate diabetic ketoacidosis.


Organic Compound.
Acetaldehyde occurs naturally in various plants.


Industrial Cleaner.
Acetone effectively cleans machinery.


Byproduct of Alcohol Metabolism.
Acetaldehyde builds up in the body after drinking alcohol.


Cosmetic Ingredient.
Acetone is found in some skin creams.


A colorless, flammable liquid, C2H4O, used to manufacture acetic acid, perfumes, and drugs.


A colorless, volatile, extremely flammable liquid ketone, C3H6O, widely used as an organic solvent. It is one of the ketone bodies that accumulate in the blood and urine when fat is being metabolized.


(organic compound) An organic compound, (CH3CHO). Sometimes called ethanal or acetic aldehyde. See aldehyde.


(organic compound) A colourless, volatile, flammable liquid ketone, (CH3)2CO, used as a solvent.


Acetic aldehyde. See Aldehyde.


A volatile liquid consisting of three parts of carbon, six of hydrogen, and one of oxygen; pyroacetic spirit, - obtained by the distillation of certain acetates, or by the destructive distillation of citric acid, starch, sugar, or gum, with quicklime.


A colorless volatile water-soluble liquid aldehyde used chiefly in manufacture of acetic acid and perfumes and drugs


The simplest ketone; a highly inflammable liquid widely used as an organic solvent and as material for making plastics


How is acetaldehyde produced?

Mainly by oxidation of ethanol.

What is acetone commonly used for?

As a solvent, particularly in nail polish remover.

What are the uses of acetone in industry?

In pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and as a cleaning agent.

What is acetaldehyde?

A flammable organic compound used in chemical synthesis.

Is acetaldehyde a carcinogen?

Yes, it is considered a potential carcinogen.

How is acetone produced in the body?

Through fat metabolism, particularly in diabetic conditions.

Is acetone dangerous?

It's flammable but less toxic compared to acetaldehyde.

Can acetaldehyde be found in food?

Yes, as a flavoring agent.

What role does acetaldehyde play in alcohol metabolism?

It's an intermediate and contributes to hangovers.

What are the signs of high acetone levels in the body?

Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.

Are there natural sources of acetone?

Yes, it's produced by many plants and trees.

What industries use acetone extensively?

Pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and plastic industries.

Can acetaldehyde be synthesized artificially?

Yes, through various chemical processes.

Are there regulations on acetaldehyde use?

Yes, due to its potential health risks.

What safety precautions are necessary when handling acetone?

Avoiding flames and using in well-ventilated areas.

Is acetone biodegradable?

Yes, it breaks down in the environment.

How does acetaldehyde affect human health?

Exposure can cause respiratory and skin irritation.

Is acetaldehyde used in perfumes?

Yes, for its distinct scent.

What are the environmental impacts of acetaldehyde?

It can contribute to air pollution and is harmful to aquatic life.

How is acetone disposed of safely?

By following hazardous waste disposal guidelines.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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