Important Differences between Acetone and Chloroform


Acetone is a colorless, highly flammable organic compound with the chemical formula C3H6O. It is the simplest and most commonly used ketone, characterized by its distinctive sweetish odor. Acetone is a volatile liquid that evaporates quickly at room temperature. It is miscible with water and many organic solvents, making it a versatile and widely utilized solvent in various industries. Commonly found in nail polish remover, paint thinners, and cleaning agents, acetone is valued for its ability to dissolve a wide range of substances. In addition to its industrial applications, acetone is used in laboratories, as a fuel additive, and in the production of chemicals like methyl methacrylate and bisphenol-A.

Physical Properties of Acetone:

  • State:

Acetone is a colorless, volatile liquid at room temperature.

  • Odor:

It has a characteristic sweet, fruity odor.

  • Solubility:

Acetone is highly soluble in water, as well as in many organic solvents.

  • Density:

It has a lower density than water, causing it to float on the surface.

  • Boiling Point:

Acetone boils at approximately 56.5 degrees Celsius (133.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • Melting Point:

It has a melting point of approximately -95 degrees Celsius (-139 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • Vapor Pressure:

Acetone has a high vapor pressure, meaning it readily evaporates.

Chemical Properties of Acetone:

  • Chemical Formula:

The chemical formula of acetone is (CH3)2CO.

  • Functional Group:

It contains a carbonyl group, which is characteristic of ketones.

  • Reactivity:

Acetone is a highly reactive compound and can participate in various chemical reactions.

  • Flammability:

It is highly flammable and can ignite easily.

  • Acidity:

Acetone is a weak acid and can undergo acid-base reactions.

  • Redox Properties:

It can act as both a reducing agent and an oxidizing agent in certain chemical reactions.

  • Stability:

Acetone is relatively stable under normal conditions but can undergo reactions when exposed to certain chemicals or conditions.

  • Autoignition Temperature:

The autoignition temperature of acetone is approximately 465 degrees Celsius (869 degrees Fahrenheit).

Uses of Acetone

  • Nail Polish Remover:

Acetone is a key ingredient in nail polish removers, effectively dissolving nail polish and allowing for easy removal.

  • Paint Thinner:

It is used as a solvent in paint thinners, helping to dilute and clean up oil-based paints and coatings.

  • Adhesive Remover:

Acetone is effective in removing adhesives and glues from surfaces, making it useful in DIY projects and industrial settings.

  • Solvent in Laboratories:

It serves as a versatile solvent in laboratories for various chemical reactions and extractions.

  • Cleaning Agent:

Acetone is used in household cleaning products, effectively removing stains, residues, and grease from surfaces.

  • Cosmetics and Personal Care Products:

It is used in the formulation of cosmetics, including makeup, skincare, and hair care products.

  • Nail Art:

Acetone is used in nail art techniques, such as nail marbling and acrylic nail design.

  • Medical and Healthcare:

In healthcare settings, acetone is used for cleaning and disinfection of medical equipment and surfaces.

  • Manufacturing and Industrial Processes:

It is employed as a solvent in various manufacturing processes, including the production of plastics, resins, and synthetic fibers.

  • Thermoforming Plastic:

Acetone can be used to shape and mold certain types of plastics through a process known as thermoforming.

  • Fuel Additive:

It is sometimes used as an additive in certain fuels, enhancing combustion efficiency.

  • Extraction of Essential Oils:

Acetone can be used in the extraction of essential oils from plant materials.

  • Degreasing Agent:

In industrial settings, acetone is used for degreasing metal surfaces before painting or coating.

  • Ink Removal:

It is used to remove ink stains from fabrics and surfaces.

  • Analytical Chemistry:

Acetone is used as a solvent and reagent in various analytical chemistry techniques.


Chloroform is a volatile organic compound with the chemical formula CHCl3. It is a colorless, heavy, and sweet-smelling liquid that was historically used as an anesthetic in medical procedures. However, due to its potential for harmful effects on the liver and nervous system, its medical use has largely been replaced by safer alternatives. Chloroform is produced through the reaction of chlorine with methane or acetone. It is sparingly soluble in water but mixes well with organic solvents. Besides its historical medical use, chloroform has found applications as a solvent in laboratory work, particularly in the extraction of organic compounds. Additionally, it has been used in industry for purposes like manufacturing refrigerants and propellants, although its industrial use has also declined over the years.

Physical Properties of Chloroform:

  • State:

Chloroform is a colorless, heavy, volatile liquid at room temperature.

  • Odor:

It has a sweet, ether-like odor.

  • Density:

Chloroform is denser than water, causing it to sink in water.

  • Boiling Point:

It has a boiling point of approximately 61.2 degrees Celsius (142.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • Melting Point:

The melting point of chloroform is approximately -63.5 degrees Celsius (-82.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • Solubility:

It is sparingly soluble in water but highly soluble in organic solvents like ethanol and ether.

  • Vapor Pressure:

Chloroform has a moderate vapor pressure, meaning it can readily evaporate.

Chemical Properties of Chloroform:

  • Chemical Formula:

The chemical formula of chloroform is CHCl3.

  • Functional Group:

It is a trihalomethane, containing three chlorine atoms attached to a single carbon atom.

  • Reactivity:

Chloroform can undergo various chemical reactions, including halogenation, oxidation, and reduction.

  • Stability:

It is relatively stable under normal conditions, but it can decompose under high temperatures or in the presence of light.

  • pH Sensitivity:

Chloroform is not significantly affected by changes in pH.

  • Flammability:

It is non-flammable but can form explosive mixtures with air under certain conditions.

  • Solvent Properties:

Chloroform is an effective solvent for a wide range of organic compounds.

  • Biodegradability:

It is slowly biodegradable in natural environments.

  • Toxicity:

Chloroform is considered toxic and can have harmful effects on the liver and nervous system.

  • Susceptibility to Hydrolysis:

Chloroform can undergo hydrolysis, breaking down in the presence of water.

Uses of Chloroform

  • Anesthetic:

Chloroform was once used as a general anesthetic during surgical procedures. However, its use for anesthesia has been largely replaced by safer alternatives like halothane and isoflurane.

  • Solvent:

It was used as a solvent in laboratories for dissolving and extracting organic compounds.

  • Extracting Essential Oils:

Chloroform was employed to extract essential oils from plants due to its ability to dissolve a wide range of organic substances.

  • Manufacturing:

It was used in the production of refrigerants, propellants, and other chemicals, although its industrial use has declined.

  • Fire Extinguisher:

In the past, chloroform was used in fire extinguishers, but this practice has been discontinued due to safety concerns.

  • Historical Medical Treatments:

It was used in various medical treatments and remedies in the past, such as cough syrups and liniments.

  • Photography:

Chloroform was used in early photography processes as a solvent for dissolving certain chemicals.

  • Chloroform Water:

A mixture of chloroform and water was once used as an antiseptic and anesthetic spray.

Important Differences between Acetone and Chloroform

Basis of Comparison Acetone Chloroform
Chemical Formula (CH3)2CO CHCl3
Chemical Structure Ketone Trihalomethane
Odor Sweet, fruity Sweet, ether-like
Solubility in Water Highly soluble Sparingly soluble
Use as Anesthetic Not an anesthetic Used as a historical anesthetic
Density Less dense than water Denser than water
Boiling Point Lower (56.5°C) Higher (61.2°C)
Melting Point -95°C -63.5°C
Health Hazards Generally safe, mild toxicity Potentially carcinogenic and toxic
Common Uses Nail polish remover, solvent Historical anesthetic, industrial applications
Industrial Applications Limited Used in the past, now regulated
Medical Use Not used medically Historical use as an anesthetic
Regulatory Status Generally less regulated Strictly regulated due to health risks
Historical Significance Limited medical use Widely used as an anesthetic in the past
Current Availability Commonly available Restricted due to safety concerns

Important Similarities between Acetone and Chloroform

  • Chemical Structure:

Both Acetone and Chloroform contain carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine atoms in their chemical composition.

  • Solvent Properties:

Both compounds have solvent capabilities and can dissolve a wide range of organic substances.

  • Volatile Nature:

They are both volatile organic compounds, meaning they can readily evaporate at room temperature.

  • Industrial Applications:

Historically, both have been used in industrial processes, although their contemporary use has diminished, particularly for Chloroform.

  • Historical Medical Use:

Both compounds have been used in the past for medical purposes. Chloroform was used as a general anesthetic, while Acetone has been used in pharmaceutical formulations.

  • Potential Hazards:

Both Acetone and Chloroform can pose health risks if not handled properly. They should be used with caution and in accordance with safety guidelines.

  • Regulatory Oversight:

Due to their potential health risks, both compounds are subject to regulatory oversight and restrictions in their use.

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