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What Is Acetone?

Acetone, also known as propanone, is a clear, colorless liquid that is highly flammable. It is not necessarily a household word, but this will ring a bell: nail polish remover. Acetone is also used as a degreaser, for thinning fiber glass resin, and helps remove adhesives and vinyl resins. While it is a widely used product, and is even made in our bodies, acetone is considered a hazardous waste material and needs to be handled and disposed of properly. The potential negative health effects are skin, eye and lung irritation. Long-term exposure can result in dry, cracked skin and possible damage to the nervous system. Here is a sample MSDS for acetone in the GHS format (not for official use). For more SDS information about acetone and other chemicals, try our SDS/MSDS search tool.

What Is Acetone Used For?

The majority of the world’s acetone is used as a solvent, but it also has laboratory, medical, cosmetic and other uses. Acetone’s most well-known use is in nail salons, but it appears in many other industries:

  • Printing – as a cleaning solvent
  • Adhesives Manufacturing – most commonly in carpet adhesives
  • Wood Stains and Varnishes – for varnish solvents – very common in households
  • Paint Stripping – as a solvent, also common in households
  • Polystyrene Manufacture – for polystyrene production
  • Machinery Manufacture and Repair – as a cleaning solvent
  • SBR Latex Production – as a solvent
  • Electroplating – as a vapor degreaser and cold-cleaning solvent

Acetone Safety Tips

Below are some tips on how to stay safe when using acetone. Try our SDS/MSDS search tool.

  • Make sure the area in which the acetone is used is well-ventilated
  • Wear proper PPEs (gloves, goggles, mask)
  • If you work with acetone on a surface, make sure the surface it’s a surface that doesn’t soak up the liquid
  • If you use acetone in your business, make sure you have got the proper licensing in place to do so

Acetone is a common item, but it can pose some serious risks, particularly in regard to its high flammability. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure a safe environment any time you use acetone.

Acetone Storage

If you need to store your acetone, do so with a tight-fitting lid and store in a space where there are no electrical outlets, stoves, or heat-producing sources. As stated above, acetone is highly flammable and can be ignited from a distance.

If your business uses a large quantity of acetone, you’ll need to consult with your local fire department to ascertain how to store your acetone in a manner that accommodates large amounts of the liquid and also to determine if the acetone needs to be in a fireproof container.

How to Dispose of Acetone

Acetone disposal needs to be handled according to how much is being used. If you are using acetone for a small item, like removing nail polish, you can dispose them in a metal container lined with a plastic garbage bag; this bag can then be placed with regular garbage. However, if you have a fully saturated cotton ball or rag, you need to squeeze the excess acetone liquid into a container that will seal tightly, double-bag the material and then place into a regular garbage bag.

To dispose of liquid acetone, you need to take the acetone to a hazardous waste treatment, storage, disposal or recycling facility (TSDR) drop off site or contract with a TSDR to pick it up from your business. To find a hazardous waste disposal facility in your regional area, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website at

For more information on acetone and other hazardous chemicals call 1-888-362-2007.

Need to track down the SDS document? Try our SDS/MSDS search tool. The SDS database from VelocityEHS contains millions of manufacturer-original safety data sheets. Start a free trial today.