Difference Between Acetone and Acetate

Acetone and acetate are two commonly used compounds that have similar sounding names but distinct chemical properties and uses. Both are organic solvents that have important applications in various fields. In this essay, we will explore the differences between acetone and acetate in terms of their chemical structures, properties, uses, and safety.

What is Acetone?

This is a volatile, colorless as well as a flammable liquid. It is the smallest and simplest ketone and is miscible with water. It is used as a solvent, consumed as acetone cyanohydrin as well as a precursor to methyl methacrylate. As a solvent, it dissolves synthetic fibers as well as plastics, while also acting as a thinner for polyester resin. It is also used in varnishes and paints as one of the volatile ingredients. In the pharmaceutical industry, it’s used as a solvent and as a denaturant in denatured alcohol. It is also used in the beauty industry as a nail polish remover, superglue remover and skin adhesive remover on artificial hair.

Acetone occurs in animals, plants, vehicle exhaust, forest fires, volcanic gases, etc. Acetone occurs in the human body in small quantities. After prolonged starvation or diet the stock of carbohydrates in the body is depleted and the fat is decomposed, which leads to the production of acetone. As a result, the so-called “acetone breath” occurs. More severe cases result in ketoacidosis, which is also one of the symptoms of diabetes.

Inhaled acetone vapor causes dizziness and intoxication. Acetone dissolves fats very well, so it causes dry and cracked skin.

The molecular weight of acetone is 58.08 g/mol. Its vapors are two times heavier than air. The density of acetone related to water is 0.8 (water = 1). It is stable under the recommended storage conditions.

Acetone’s boiling point is 56°C, and its melting point is -95°C. Auto-ignition occurs at 465°C.

What is Acetate?

Acetate is an anion that is a monocarboxylic acid that is formed from a chemical modification of acetic acid. The word acetate is also a term that is often used to describe an acetate salt.

Properties in Acetate: Acetate has the molecular weight of 59.044 grams per mol and it is classified as an anion and sometimes as a salt when combined with other substances. In fact, some salts that are acetates are able to dissolve in water. Many of the properties of acetate will be influenced by what other substances they react or combine with, which means they may or may not be flammable, for instance.

Formation of Acetate: The way that acetate can be made is to combine a particular substance with acetic acid. Several different types of acetates can be formed depending on what substance is combined with acetic acid. There are living organisms such as methanogenic bacteria of the genus Methanosarcina that are able to make acetate when grown on certain substrates such as trimethylamine or when cultured on a methanol substrate.

Acetate Uses − Acetate is a useful substance when combined with other substances. In fact, ethyl acetate can be used for electroplating and for removing varnishes or paints. Cellulose acetate can be used in the manufacture of eyeglasses, and in the past, was also used in photographic film. In the natural world, acetate is used to make fatty acids.

Acetate Safety − How hazardous the acetate is depends on what substance it combines with. For instance, ethyl acetate is a flammable substance. On the other hand, when cellulose is combined with acetate a non-flammable material is produced.

Differences: Acetone vs Acetate

Chemical Structure − Acetone, also known as propanone, is a colorless, volatile, and flammable liquid with the chemical formula C3H6O. It is a ketone and is composed of three carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom. The carbon atom in the middle of the molecule is double-bonded to an oxygen atom, which gives acetone its characteristic chemical properties.

Acetate, on the other hand, is an ion or salt of acetic acid. It is a negatively charged ion and has the chemical formula CH3COO-. Acetate is formed when acetic acid, which is a weak organic acid, reacts with a base such as sodium hydroxide. Acetate has a single carbon atom, two oxygen atoms, and three hydrogen atoms. The carbon atom in the molecule is double-bonded to one of the oxygen atoms and has a single bond with another oxygen atom.

Properties − Acetone is a highly volatile and flammable liquid that has a low boiling point of 56.05°C. It has a strong, sweetish odor and is soluble in water, ethanol, and many other organic solvents. Acetone is a good solvent for a wide range of organic compounds, including fats, oils, resins, and many plastics. It is also an effective cleaner and degreaser.

Acetate, on the other hand, is a non-volatile and non-flammable ion that is soluble in water and many other polar solvents. Acetate has a slightly sweetish taste and is commonly used as a food preservative, flavoring agent, and pH regulator. Sodium acetate is often used in the textile industry as a mordant, which helps to fix dyes onto fabrics.

Uses − Acetone is used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and household applications. It is a key ingredient in many nail polish removers, paint thinners, and adhesives. It is also used in the manufacture of plastics, fibers, and pharmaceuticals. In the medical field, acetone is used as a solvent for many drugs and as a disinfectant for medical instruments.

Acetate has many uses as well. It is commonly used in the food industry as a preservative, flavor enhancer, and acid regulator. Sodium acetate is used as a buffering agent in many pharmaceuticals and in the production of photographic film. It is also used as a component in electroplating solutions, which are used to coat metal surfaces with a thin layer of metal.

Safety − Both acetone and acetate can be hazardous if handled improperly. Acetone is a highly flammable liquid and should be stored in a cool, dry place away from heat and flames. It can cause skin irritation and can be harmful if ingested or inhaled in large amounts. Acetate, on the other hand, is not flammable but can be harmful if ingested or inhaled in large amounts. It can cause eye and skin irritation and can be toxic if ingested.





An acetone molecule is a ketone with the formula CH3COCH3.

Acetate is an anion that has the formula CH3COO-.

Molecular weight

Acetone has a molecular weight that is 58.07 grams per mol.

The molecular weight of acetate is 59.044 grams per mol.

Type of molecule

The acetone is classified as being a type of ketone.

The acetate is classified as being a type of anion.

Number of methyl groups

There are two methyl groups found in the acetone molecule.

There is only one methyl group found in the acetate molecule.

Number of oxygen atoms

There is only one oxygen atom present in the acetone molecule.

There are two oxygen atoms found in the acetate molecule.

Formation in industry

Acetone is made industrially by a method that is called the cumene hydroperoxide method.

Acetate is made when acetic acid loses a proton, and acetate ions are often combined with other substances to form salts.

Formation in nature

The formation of acetone in humans occurs by the catabolism of fats which results in the production of ketones.

The formation of acetate does occur in the living world, with some living organisms, such as methanogenic bacteria, able to make acetate in their cells.


Acetone smells most like fruit.

Acetate can smell sweet or like glue.


There are many uses for acetone such as for stripping paint or lacquers and taking off nail polish.

The uses for acetate include removal of varnish or paint from surfaces and also for making photographic film. Acetate is also often used in the electroplating industry.


In conclusion, acetone and acetate are two distinct compounds that have different chemical structures, properties, and uses. Acetone is a volatile and flammable solvent that is commonly used in the manufacture of plastics, fibers, and pharmaceuticals. Acetate is an ion that is used as a preservative, flavor enhancer, and acid regulator in the food industry and as a buffering

Updated on: 30-Mar-2023


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