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Acetone vs. Acetate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 29, 2023
Acetone is a volatile, flammable solvent, commonly used as a nail polish remover, while acetate is a salt or ester of acetic acid, used in various applications like plastics and textiles.

Key Differences

Acetone is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive odor, known for its effectiveness as a solvent. Acetate, on the other hand, refers to compounds formed from acetic acid, where the hydrogen of the acid is replaced by a metal or a radical.
Acetone is used widely in the cosmetic industry, particularly in nail polish removers, and is also a significant industrial solvent. While, acetates are diverse and used in various industries, from plastics and textiles to food additives and pharmaceuticals.
In its pure form, acetone is highly volatile and flammable, making it a useful solvent in chemical processes. Whereas, acetates can be solid or liquid, depending on the metal or radical they are combined with, and are often less volatile than acetone.
Acetone is produced through the dehydrogenation of isopropanol and is a key component in the manufacture of other chemicals. Acetates, like sodium acetate, are typically created by reacting acetic acid with a base.
While acetone is renowned for its ability to dissolve plastics and resins, acetates are often used to create these materials, illustrating their diverse chemical roles.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Nature

Volatile, flammable solvent
Salt or ester of acetic acid

Common Uses

Nail polish remover, industrial solvent
Plastics, textiles, food additives

Physical State

Clear, colorless liquid
Varies (solid or liquid)


Highly volatile
Generally less volatile

Production Process

Produced from dehydrogenation of isopropanol
Formed by reacting acetic acid with a base

Acetone and Acetate Definitions


Produced from the dehydrogenation of isopropanol.
Acetone is an important chemical in organic synthesis.


Used in the manufacture of plastics and textiles.
Cellulose acetate is a key component in photographic film.


A volatile, flammable liquid used in industrial applications.
Acetone is used to clean machinery in factories.


Formed by reacting acetic acid with a base.
Ammonium acetate is used in certain pharmaceuticals.


Known for its ability to dissolve plastics and resins.
Acetone was used to dissolve the epoxy resin.


Can be found in various forms, from solids to liquids.
Ethyl acetate is used as a solvent in nail varnish.


A solvent often used in nail polish remover.
She used acetone to remove her nail polish.


Used as a food additive for flavoring or preservation.
Vinegar owes its sour taste to acetic acid and its acetates.


A clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive smell.
The strong smell in the lab was due to acetone.


A salt or ester of acetic acid.


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.


Cellulose acetate or any of various products, especially fibers, derived from it.


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


(organic chemistry) Any salt or ester of acetic acid.


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.


Cellulose acetate.


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


A transparent sheet used for overlays.


Ellipsis of acetate disc: a disc of aluminium covered in a wax used to make demonstration copies of a phonograph record.


A salt formed by the union of acetic acid with a base or positive radical; as, acetate of lead, acetate of potash.


A salt or ester of acetic acid


A fabric made from cellulose acetate fibers


Is acetone harmful to humans?

In small amounts, it's generally safe, but prolonged exposure can be harmful.

Does acetone evaporate quickly?

Yes, it has a high evaporation rate.

Can acetone dissolve plastic?

Acetone can dissolve certain types of plastic, like polystyrene.

Is acetone naturally present in the body?

Yes, it's a byproduct of fat metabolism.

How is acetone produced industrially?

It's mainly produced through the cumene process.

What are common uses of acetate?

It's used in textiles, plastics, and as a solvent in various industrial processes.

What is acetone?

Acetone is a volatile, colorless liquid commonly used as a solvent, particularly in the removal of nail polish.

Is acetone flammable?

Yes, acetone is highly flammable.

What is acetone used for?

It's used as a solvent in the chemical industry, in household products like nail polish remover, and in laboratories.

Is acetate biodegradable?

Yes, many forms of acetate are biodegradable.

Is acetate the same as acetic acid?

No, acetate is a derivative or salt of acetic acid.

Can acetone be used for cleaning?

Yes, it's effective in removing grease and residue.

What is acetate?

Acetate refers to any compound derived from acetic acid where one or more hydrogen atoms are replaced by a metal or organic group.

What is cellulose acetate?

It's a derivative of cellulose used in making photographic film and eyeglass frames.

Can acetate be used in food?

Yes, some acetates are used as preservatives or flavorings in food.

Is acetate harmful to humans?

In small amounts, it's generally safe, but high concentrations can be toxic.

How is acetate produced?

It can be produced chemically from acetic acid or through bacterial fermentation.

What is the role of acetate in the body?

It's an important intermediate in metabolism.

Is acetate soluble in water?

Yes, most acetates are soluble in water.
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
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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