What are Common Uses of Acetone and Formalin? Brief Explanation Here!

What is acetone?

Acetone is an organic compound that has the chemical formula (CH3)2CO. Acetone was first discovered by Chaim Weizmann who was a British citizen. Weizmann made acetone using Clostridium Acetobutylicum because he needed something to help him in creating a method of bacterial fermentation. Acetone is also produced by human body in a small amount through a biological process.

Acetone is a colorless, volatile, flammable liquid. It is the simplest and smallest form of Ketone (Alkanone). Acetone was an invaluable tool in in WWI due to its highly flammable properties. It was a better propellent for British artillery shells than gunpowder. Acetone occurs naturally in human body as a byproduct of metabolism.

What is formalin?

Formalin (HCHO) is a 37% aqueous solution of Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring organic compound that has the chemical formula CH2O(H-CHO). Formaldehyde is simplest form of aldehydes and is used in large amount in a variety of chemical manufacturing processes. Formalin is usually made by the vapour-phase oxidation of methanol.

Uses of acetone in everyday life 

Besides as a nail polish remover, there are many uses of acetone in our daily lives. Some of them can be seen as listed below.

  • Nail polish remover

One use if acetone is that it can be used as a nail polish remover. Acetone is the active ingredient in nail polish removing product and is used because it dissolves another compound (nail polisher). Also read: Harmful Chemicals In Nail Polish

Nail polish remover (that uses acetone) can also be used for other purposes, such as ink stain remover, permanent marker remover, sticky tape residue remover, and patent leather shoe cleaner. It is important to wash your hand after using the nail polish remover as an excessive use of it can make the nails brittle and weak. Also read: List of Toxic Chemicals in Nail Polish

  • Lab solvent

Acetone is a very important solvent in a chemical lab. It is commonly used to rinse glass of residue. It is also used to rinse water from equipment which enables a faster drying process.

  • Paint thinner

Acetone is used for thinning oil-based paints and resin. It is also used to clean up after the paints have been used. Also read: Famous Scientists Who Are Also Artists

  • Fuel additive

Acetone is also used by people as an additive to the gasoline in their car. The dissolving power of acetone helps in cleaning off engine buildup and making the vehicle runs smoother.

  • Usage in textile industry

Acetone is widely used in the textile industry. It is used for decreasing wool and degumming silk. 

  • Acne treatment

Acetone can also be used for acne treatment when mixed with alcohol.

  • Removing oil stains from concrete
  • Food additives
  • Detergent
  • Cleaning products
  • Rubber cement
  • Solvent for plastic
  • Solvent for synthetic fibers

Now you know about what are common uses of acetone and formalin.  Also read: Uses of Sulfur and Its Compounds in Daily Life

Uses of formalin in everyday life

Although formalin is mainly used as a preservative, there are also other uses of formalin in our daily lives. Some uses of formalin can be seen as listed below. 

  • Preservation of biological specimens
  • Embalming (treating human remains to delay their decomposition)
  • Disinfectant for hospital appliances
  • Preservation of living organism’s cell
  • In a large scale, formalin is used as precursor in making an important industrial scale chemical compound
  • Industry-scaled antibacterial
  • Fly repellent
  • In photography, formalin is used to harden gelatin layer and paper
  • Ingredients of urea fertilizer
  • Cosmetics preservatives
  • Corrosion prevention for oil well
  • Plywood glue
  • In fishery industry, it is used to remove bacteria which usually live inside a fish scale
  • As an effective medication for fish which is caused by ectoparasite (like fluke)

Acetone poisoning

Despite being very useful in our daily life, acetone can also be very dangerous to our body. Acetone poisoning effects when there’s more acetone in our body more than the liver can break down. Acetone poisoning may also occur for some other reasons, including:

  • Drinking rubbing alcohol for intoxication
  • Overexposure to specific paints in confined spaces
  • Accidentally drinking cleaning solution that contains acetone
  • Drinking nail polish remover
  • Splashing in the eyes
  • Touching the skin
  • Breathing it

Acetone poisoning occurs rarely, but despite that, it can be life-threatening. We also have to know the symptoms of acetone poisoning. Mild acetone poisoning can be seen as listed below.

  • Headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Eye irritation
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • A sweet taste in the mouth
  • Vomiting

There are also severe symptoms that rarely occurs, such as:

  • Coma
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased pulse rate
  • The shortening of women’s menstrual cycle
  • Deep stupor

Due to the hazard that acetone poisoning causes, we have to take precautions when exposed to acetone. Those precautions include:

  • Keep a room or spaces well ventilated when using acetone-based products
  • Wear mask when using acetone-based products in a poor ventilated room or spaces
  • Protect your eyes from acetone splashes by wearing a safety glass
  • Keep acetone containing liquid or bottle from the reach of children
  • Store acetone away from any fire sources as it is a highly flammable compound 

Health risk of formalin

Although formalin is widely used as corpse preservative and nonfood industrial-scaled preservatives, it is not advisable to use formalin as a food preservative as it can bring harm to the human body. But, there’s still some irresponsible people who used formalin as food preservatives. So, we have to know the side effects of consuming formalin to the human body. Some short-term effects of consuming formalin include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Anuria
  • Vomiting
  • Larynx edema
  • Ulceration in the mucosa
  • Gastrointestinal diarrhea
  • Kidney failure

Also read: Safe Chemicals That Can Be Dangerous in Everyday Products

Consuming formalin in a long term and repeatedly, whether its intentionally or unintentionally, may lead to several side effects, such as:

  • Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach ache
  • Intestinal pain
  • Disorders in the blood circulation

Consuming formalin can also cause chronic side effects, such as:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Bloody urine
  • Bloody vomit
  • Stomach irritation
  • Women’s menstruation cycle disorders
  • Infertility
  • Liver failure
  • Pancreas failure
  • Neuron system failure
  • Death

Consuming formalin reportedly cause cancer to animals and may also be carcinogenic to human (especially in mouth and throat). Consuming formalin also known to react with the human cells and will mess the arrangements of protein (RNA) in the construction of DNA in human body. Thus, that’s all about what are common uses of acetone and formalin.