The Differences Between MEK and Acetone

MEK’s Relation To Acetone

MEK, also known as Butanone and Methyl Ethyl Ketone is a solvent that is related to acetone, because acetone is simply liquid ketone.

Since MEK and Acetone share the ketone trait, many assume that they can be used as interchangeable solvents.

Acetone and MEK have very similar traits and can be used for many of the same purposes, but they also have specific applications that each is best suited for.

MEK and Acetone Compared

MEK or Methyl Ethyl Ketone is stronger than Acetone, because it has a slower evaporation rate and boils at a higher temperature.

These differences are why MEK can be a stronger cleaning agent than acetone.

Unlike Acetone, MEK forms an azeotrope with water, which means that methyl ethyl ketone and water mix together to form a constant boiling point that cannot be affected by distillation.

This quality is convenient for distillation of moisture in certain applications.

MEK is both less soluble and less volatile than acetone.

MEK is also useful in products like dry-erase markers, because it is slow-evaporating. Acetone should not be utilized for this purpose, because it is fast-drying.

This quality does not make Acetone the ideal choice for ink products.

Acetone is typically a better solvent than MEK, because it dissolves a wider range of compounds.

Acetone is often utilized as a paint thinner.

Acetone is better for this application, because its evaporation rate is much faster than that of MEK.

Acetone is inexpensive compared to Methyl Ethyl Ketone, which is why it is more often used for consumer products such as nail polish and nail polish remover.

Acetone is not considered to be a volatile substance, though its low boiling point does make it more flammable than other substances.

Shared Applications

MEK and Acetone are both utilized as solvents in coatings, lacquer, varnish, and paint.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone is very useful in paint, rust, varnish, lacquer, and grease removers.

Benefits of MEK

  • Highly effective solvent.
  • High boiling point.
  • Slow evaporation rate.
  • Soluble with water.

Benefits of Acetone

  • Low toxicity.
  • Water soluble.
  • Low boiling point.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Fast evaporating.

Safe Use

  • Both MEK and Acetone can cause drowsiness and dizziness.
  • Only use MEK and Acetone in well-ventilated areas.
  • Do not let MEK or Acetone come into contact with the skin.
  • Follow safety data sheets for MEK and Acetone for more information on proper safety and handling.

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