How Is Acetone Made?

Acetone can be made using a wide variety of methods, although as of 2015, approximately 90 percent of acetone produced in the United States is made through the hydrolysis of cumene hydroperoxide. Earlier methods of acetone production included carbohydrate fermentation of molasses or corn and thermal decomposition of calcium acetate.

Cumene peroxidation involves the splitting of cumene hydroperoxide in the presence of sulphuric acid, which results in acetone and phenol. Under normal circumstances, this produces approximately 0.62 tons of acetone for every 1 ton of phenol. This process became more popular in the 1960s due to the increased supply of propylene.

Acetone, also known as dimethylketone, is a colorless liquid with a somewhat sweet smell. It is one of the most used chemical solvents in the world. Although it is extremely flammable, acetone has a very low toxicity and is naturally produced by the body in small amounts.

According to Dow Chemicals, approximately 70 percent of the acetone produced in the world is used to manufacture other chemicals, and about 12 percent is used in its pure form as a solvent. Approximately 6 percent of acetone is used to manufacture pharmaceuticals. Some of the other chemicals produced with acetone include adhesives, general purpose cements, paint thinner, nail polish remover and other cosmetic products.