Important Differences between Acetone and Xylene


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.


Xylene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet, aromatic odor. It is a mixture of three isomeric chemical compounds, namely ortho-xylene, meta-xylene, and para-xylene. These isomers have similar chemical properties but different molecular arrangements. Xylene is derived from crude oil and is used primarily as a solvent in various industrial and commercial applications. It is a versatile substance, finding use in paint thinners, varnishes, adhesives, and in the production of chemicals like polyester fibers and films. Additionally, xylene plays a role in medical laboratories as a clearing agent for tissue samples in histology. While useful, it is important to handle xylene with care due to its flammability and potential health hazards if not used in well-ventilated areas.

Physical Properties of Xylene:

  • Chemical Formula:

C8H10 (Ortho-xylene, Meta-xylene, Para-xylene isomers)

  • Molecular Weight:

Approximately 106.16 g/mol

  • Physical State:

Liquid at room temperature

  • Color:


  • Odor:

Sweet, aromatic odor

  • Melting Point:

-47 °C (-53 °F)

  • Boiling Point:

138-144 °C (280-291 °F)

  • Density:

86-0.88 g/cm³

  • Solubility in Water:


  • Solubility in Organic Solvents:

Highly soluble in organic solvents like ethanol, ether, and acetone

  • Vapor Pressure:

7 mmHg at 20 °C

  • Viscosity:

Low, similar to water

  • Flash Point:

25-28 °C (77-82 °F)

  • Autoignition Temperature:

463 °C (865 °F)

  • Vapor Density:

Heavier than air

Chemical Properties of Xylene:

  • Isomerism:

Xylene exists in three isomeric forms – ortho-xylene, meta-xylene, and para-xylene. These isomers have similar chemical compositions but different arrangements of atoms.

  • Aromatic Hydrocarbon:

Xylene is an aromatic hydrocarbon, meaning it contains a benzene ring structure in its chemical makeup.

  • Reactivity:

Xylene is relatively stable under normal conditions. It is not highly reactive with common chemicals.

  • Flammability:

Xylene is flammable and can ignite when exposed to an open flame or spark. It has a relatively low flash point.

  • Solubility:

It is highly soluble in organic solvents like ethanol, acetone, and ether, but it is practically insoluble in water.

  • Chemical Reactions:

Xylene can undergo various chemical reactions typical of aromatic compounds, including substitution reactions.

  • Oxidation:

It can undergo oxidation reactions under certain conditions, forming compounds like xylene epoxides.

  • Hydroxylation:

Xylene can be hydroxylated to form corresponding methylbenzyl alcohols.

  • Halogenation:

It can undergo halogenation reactions, where hydrogen atoms in the xylene molecule are replaced by halogen atoms (e.g., bromine or chlorine).

  • Acidic Reactions:

Xylene does not exhibit acidic properties under normal conditions.

  • Reduction:

It can be subjected to reduction reactions to produce various derivatives.

  • Aromatic Substitution:

Due to its aromatic nature, xylene can undergo electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions.

Uses of Xylene

  • Solvent:

Xylene is widely used as a solvent in industries such as paint, coatings, varnishes, adhesives, and printing. It helps dissolve and mix components in these formulations.

  • Paint and Coatings:

It is a key component in the production of paints, varnishes, and lacquers. It aids in achieving the desired consistency and texture.

  • Printing and Ink Industry:

Xylene is used as a solvent in the printing industry, particularly for inkjet and screen printing inks.

  • Adhesives and Sealants:

It is used as a solvent in the formulation of adhesives and sealants, providing the necessary viscosity and drying properties.

  • Chemical Intermediates:

Xylene serves as a precursor in the production of various chemicals, including plasticizers, antioxidants, and insecticides.

  • Polyester Resins:

It is used in the production of polyester fibers, films, and resins. It helps in the polymerization process.

  • Cleaning Agent:

Xylene is employed as a cleaning agent for machinery, equipment, and tools in industrial settings.

  • Laboratory Use:

In laboratories, xylene is used for tissue processing and staining in histology and pathology labs.

  • Leather Industry:

It is used in the tanning process of leather to remove natural fats and oils from hides.

  • Herbicides:

Xylene is an essential component in the formulation of certain herbicides used in agriculture.

  • Automotive Industry:

It is used in the production of automotive paints, coatings, and adhesives.

  • Dyes and Resins:

Xylene is utilized in the production of dyes, resins, and specialty chemicals.

  • Rubber Industry:

It is used in the production of synthetic rubber.

  • Environmental Analysis:

Xylene is used in environmental laboratories for extracting and analyzing various pollutants.

  • Research and Development:

It finds applications in research labs for various experimental procedures and reactions.

Important Differences between Acetone and Xylene

Basis of Comparison Acetone Xylene
Chemical Structure Ketone Aromatic Hydrocarbon Mixture
Isomeric Forms None Ortho-xylene, Meta-xylene, Para-xylene
State at Room Temperature Liquid Liquid
Odor Sweet, Fruity Sweet, Aromatic
Solubility in Water Miscible Practically Insoluble
Primary Use Solvent, Nail Polish Remover Solvent, Paints, Printing Inks
Flash Point -20 °C (-4 °F) 25-28 °C (77-82 °F)
Boiling Point 56 °C (132.8 °F) 138-144 °C (280-291 °F)
Density 0.79 g/cm³ 0.86-0.88 g/cm³
Chemical Composition Methyl Ethyl Ketone Mixture of Xylene Isomers
Use in Histology Labs Common Less Common
Common Industry Applications Cosmetics, Cleaning, Thinners Paints, Coatings, Adhesives
Environmental Impact Evaporates, Can Be Recycled Potential Environmental Concerns
Safety Considerations Flammable, Ventilation Needed Flammable, Ventilation Needed
Common Industrial Use Nail Salons, Laboratories Paint Manufacturing, Printing

Important Similarities between Acetone and Xylene

  • Flammability:

Both Acetone and Xylene are flammable liquids. They can ignite when exposed to an open flame or spark.

  • Industrial Solvents:

Both are commonly used as solvents in various industrial applications. Acetone is used as a solvent in nail polish removers, paint thinners, and adhesives, while Xylene is used primarily in paints, coatings, and printing inks.

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs):

Both Acetone and Xylene are considered volatile organic compounds, which means they can easily vaporize into the air.

  • Chemical Hazards:

Both substances require careful handling due to their potential health hazards, especially if not used in well-ventilated areas. They can pose risks through inhalation or skin contact.

  • Potential Environmental Impact:

Improper disposal or release of both Acetone and Xylene can have environmental implications. They should be handled and disposed of responsibly.

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