Acetone and ethanol are organic compounds. Both these compounds have carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. However, they fall into different categories as their chemical and physical properties are very different from each other. Acetone is an organic compound with the formula (CH3)2CO while ethanol is a simple alcohol with the chemical formula C2H6O.
What is Acetone?
Acetone is a ketone having the chemical formula (CH3)2CO. A ketone means that it has a ketone group in which a carbon atom has a double bond with an oxygen atom and two single bonds with two other carbon atoms. Another common name for acetone is propanone. It exists as a colorless, volatile, flammable liquid and has a pungent, irritating odor. Moreover, it is the smallest ketone.
Furthermore, this substance is miscible with water. Therefore, it is important as a solvent; typically, for cleaning purposes. Usually, the production and disposal of acetone in the human body occur via metabolic processes. However, people suffering from diabetics produce this substance in large amounts.
Moreover, we can produce acetone from propylene, either directly or indirectly. The process is called “cumene process”. And, this process results in phenol as well; thus, the acetone production is tied to phenol production as well.
What is Ethanol?
Ethanol is an organic compound having the chemical formula C2H6O. There are several other names that we use to name this compound; ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, drinking alcohol, etc. It is a simple alcohol having a –OH group bonded to a carbon chain. Therefore, we can denote the compound as CH3−CH2−OH. Besides, this is a volatile, flammable liquid at room temperature and is colorless. But, it has a slight characteristic odor.
Naturally, we can produce ethanol by fermentation of sugar using yeast. Or else, we can use petrochemical processes such as crude oil refining. It has many applications as antiseptics and disinfectants. Moreover, we use it widely as a solvent for the chemical synthesis of organic compounds.
What is the Difference Between Acetone and Ethanol?
Acetone is a ketone having the chemical formula (CH3)2CO. Ethanol is an organic compound having the chemical formula C2H6O. The key difference between acetone and ethanol is that acetone is a ketone whereas ethanol is an alcohol. Moreover, acetone contains a carbon atom having a double bond with an oxygen atom and two single bonds with two other carbon atoms while ethanol contains a –OH group attached to a carbon chain.
Furthermore, another significant difference between acetone and ethanol, we can say that acetone is a colorless, volatile, flammable liquid and it has a pungent, irritating odor whereas ethanol is a volatile, flammable liquid with a slight characteristic odor.
Below infographic provides more details on the difference between acetone and ethanol.
Summary – Acetone vs Ethanol
Both acetone and ethanol are organic compounds but they fall into two different categories, and they have very different chemical and physical properties. The key difference between acetone and ethanol is that acetone is a ketone whereas ethanol is an alcohol.
1. John B. Morris, in Comparative Biology of the Normal Lung (Second Edition), 2015
1. “Cumene-process-overview-2D-skeletal” (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Ethyl alcohol usp grade” By Diane A. Reid, Photographer – released by the National Cancer Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health, with the ID 3868 (image) (next) (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia