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Acetone vs. Ethanol: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on January 30, 2024
Acetone is a volatile, flammable solvent with a distinctive odor, used in industry and nail polish removers, whereas ethanol is a common alcohol found in beverages and used as a biofuel.

Key Differences

Acetone, a colorless, volatile liquid, is known for its strong, distinct smell and is a common solvent in various industrial applications. Ethanol, also a colorless liquid, is chiefly known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages and is widely used as a biofuel.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024
In terms of chemical structure, acetone is the simplest ketone, characterized by a carbonyl group flanked by two methyl groups. Ethanol, on the other hand, is an alcohol, with its molecule featuring a hydroxyl group attached to a carbon atom.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024
Acetone is renowned for its excellent solvent properties, effectively dissolving plastics, synthetic fibers, and other substances, making it invaluable in industrial and cosmetic applications. Ethanol also serves as a solvent but is more widely recognized for its role in beverages and as an additive in gasoline.
Huma Saeed
Jan 30, 2024
The production of acetone is primarily through the cumene process in the petrochemical industry, reflecting its synthetic origin. Ethanol is commonly produced through fermentation, utilizing natural processes involving yeast and sugars, indicating its biological origin.
Janet White
Jan 30, 2024
In terms of safety and environmental impact, acetone is more volatile and poses greater risks in terms of flammability and toxicity compared to ethanol. Ethanol, while also flammable, is generally considered safer and is often touted for its renewable nature when derived from biomass.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Chemical Classification

Simplest ketone
Alcohol
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024

Common Use

Industrial solvent, nail polish remover
Alcoholic beverages, biofuel
Huma Saeed
Jan 30, 2024

Odor

Strong, distinctive
Mild, characteristic of alcoholic drinks
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024

Production Method

Mostly synthetic (cumene process)
Biological (fermentation)
Harlon Moss
Jan 30, 2024

Environmental Impact

More volatile, higher toxicity
Renewable, lower toxicity
Aimie Carlson
Jan 30, 2024
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Acetone and Ethanol Definitions

Acetone

A colorless, volatile liquid solvent.
The laboratory used acetone to clean glassware.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanol

Colorless liquid with a characteristic odor.
The distinct smell of ethanol was evident in the distillery.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Acetone

Key component in nail polish removers.
She used acetone-based remover to clean her nails.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanol

A type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.
Ethanol is the intoxicating agent in beer and wine.
Huma Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Acetone

The simplest form of ketone.
Acetone's structure as a ketone makes it an effective solvent.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanol

Produced through fermentation processes.
Ethanol in beer is the result of yeast fermenting sugars.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

Acetone

Produced predominantly via the cumene process.
The factory produces acetone through the cumene process.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanol

Less toxic and more renewable than acetone.
Ethanol is favored for its environmental friendliness.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

Acetone

Widely used in industrial applications.
Acetone is essential in manufacturing various plastics.
Harlon Moss
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanol

Used as a biofuel and gasoline additive.
Ethanol is blended with gasoline to reduce emissions.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Acetone

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.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 20, 2023

Ethanol

See alcohol.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 20, 2023

Acetone

(organic compound) A colourless, volatile, flammable liquid ketone, (CH3)2CO, used as a solvent.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 20, 2023

Ethanol

(organic compound) A simple aliphatic alcohol formally derived from ethane by replacing one hydrogen atom with a hydroxyl group: CH3-CH2-OH.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 20, 2023

Acetone

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.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 20, 2023

Ethanol

Specifically, this alcohol as a fuel.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 20, 2023

Acetone

The simplest ketone; a highly inflammable liquid widely used as an organic solvent and as material for making plastics
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 20, 2023

Ethanol

The organic compound C2H5.OH, the common alcohol which is the intoxicating agent in beer, wine, and other fermented and distilled liquors; called also ethyl alcohol. It is used pure or denatured as a solvent or in medicines and colognes and cleaning solutions, or mixed in gasoline as a fuel for automobiles, and as a rocket fuel (as in the V-2 rocket).
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 20, 2023

Ethanol

The intoxicating agent in fermented and distilled liquors; used pure or denatured as a solvent or in medicines and colognes and cleaning solutions and rocket fuel; proposed as a renewable clean-burning additive to gasoline
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 20, 2023

FAQs

Can ethanol be used in beverages?

Yes, ethanol is the alcohol found in beverages.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 30, 2024

How does ethanol act as a biofuel?

Ethanol is used as a renewable fuel source, often blended with gasoline.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 30, 2024

Is acetone more toxic than ethanol?

Generally, acetone is considered more toxic.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024

What is the main difference in the smell of acetone and ethanol?

Acetone has a strong, distinct odor, while ethanol's odor is milder.
Harlon Moss
Jan 30, 2024

Is acetone a ketone or alcohol?

Acetone is a ketone.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024

Is acetone flammable?

Yes, acetone is highly flammable.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024

What is acetone used for?

Acetone is used as a solvent in industries and in nail polish removers.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024

Are both acetone and ethanol colorless?

Yes, both are colorless liquids.
Harlon Moss
Jan 30, 2024

Is acetone environmentally friendly?

Acetone is less environmentally friendly compared to ethanol.
Harlon Moss
Jan 30, 2024

How is ethanol produced?

Ethanol is produced through the fermentation of sugars by yeast.
Huma Saeed
Jan 30, 2024

What is the primary source for ethanol production?

Sugarcane, corn, and other sugary or starchy plants.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024

Can ethanol be made synthetically?

Yes, but it is commonly produced biologically.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024

What's the role of ethanol in alcoholic drinks?

Ethanol provides the intoxicating effects in alcoholic beverages.
Harlon Moss
Jan 30, 2024

Can acetone dissolve plastics?

Yes, acetone can dissolve certain plastics.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 30, 2024

Is ethanol a good solvent?

Ethanol is a decent solvent but is more famous as a beverage alcohol.
Harlon Moss
Jan 30, 2024

Is acetone naturally occurring?

Acetone can occur naturally but is mostly manufactured.
Janet White
Jan 30, 2024

Can ethanol be used in medical applications?

Yes, as an antiseptic and disinfectant.
Janet White
Jan 30, 2024

What industries use acetone?

Acetone is used in the beauty, plastics, and pharmaceutical industries.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 30, 2024

Are both acetone and ethanol used in laboratories?

Yes, both are used in labs, but for different purposes.
Harlon Moss
Jan 30, 2024

How is ethanol safer than acetone?

Ethanol is less volatile and toxic.
Harlon Moss
Jan 30, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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