What’s the Difference Between Acetone and Paint Thinner?

Some solvents that go by different names can still seem like the same product. They are used for some of the same applications, and they often produce near identical results. Take acetone and paint thinner, for example. Acetone has been used to thin paint for countless years, and paint thinner has been used to thin substances besides paint.

If the solvents can do each other’s job interchangeably, what’s the difference between acetone and paint thinner, besides the fact that paint thinner usually has a higher price tag than acetone? Let’s take a closer look, starting with something simple: the nomenclature of the solvents.

A Name Says a Lot – Paint Thinner

When it to comes to pinpointing a solvent’s application, the answer is sometimes found in the solvent’s very name — paint thinner, for example. Paint thinner is really a colloquial term that refers to a solvent that excels at stripping and/or thinning paint. There are probably hundreds of brands of paint thinners out there, if not more ? and the same is true of acetone.

However, unlike paint thinner’s colloquial name, the name of “acetone” has the sound of a solvent with broader applications ? and it is. One thing that makes acetone so popular as a thinning agent is its tremendous thinning power combined with the fact that, despite its tremendous efficacy, it’s nonetheless a mild solvent that poses low safety risks to workers and isn’t scheduled for regulation.

Acetone as Paint Thinner

If acetone is a gentle solvent and a good thinner of tough coats and accretions, why shouldn’t paint thinning be added to its long list of frequently employed capabilities? Ultimately, the answer lies in what kind of paint one is trying to thin. For example, if you want to strip paint accretions from a metal carpentry tool, acetone could probably do the job just fine. The goal is to banish the paint, not change its character.

Yet, imagine if you were using acetone as a paint thinner to make the consistency of car paint a bit more diffuse, so it would achieve a unique type of sheen after drying. In this situation, acetone isn’t your friend ? an unfortunate fact to which many DIY car enthusiasts can attest. Imagine a fine looking sports car, except for its “rippled paint”. Thanks a lot, acetone.

Need Acetone or Paint Thinner?

If you’re not sure, and you need to know the difference between acetone and paint thinner for your specific applications, the chemists at Ecolink can help. We sell industrial formulations of acetone and eco-friendly paint thinning agents, among solvents for many other specific or general uses. We supply many types of stock solvents and also create custom orders. All of our solvents are available as free samples, so you can try it before you place your first order.

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For more information about our products and services, or the difference between acetone and paint thinner, call us today at 800-563-1305, or send us an email through our contact form.