Acetone Reactions with Water, Alcohol & Iodine

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  • 0:04 What is Acetone?
  • 1:07 Acetone and Water
  • 1:43 Acetone and Alcohol
  • 2:18 Acetone and Iodine
  • 3:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

If you've heard of nail polish remover, you've heard of acetone. This lesson will explore the chemical features of acetone as well as how it reacts with water, alcohol, and iodine.

What Is Acetone?

Let's say that the color of the nail polish you just bought looks awful. Sure, it looked good in the bottle, but it looks terrible on your fingernails. But don't panic, just remove it with some acetone. Or let's say you're in the chemistry lab and need your glassware cleaned. All you've got to do is the same thing--grab some acetone! Or let's say you have a band and it needs a name. You can copy the Los Angeles rock group from 1992 who named their band (you guessed it) Acetone!

Okay, okay, let's forget about the rock band and focus on the chemical. Acetone is a colorless, flammable, liquid, organic compound (meaning it contains carbon) that has a carbon double bonded to an oxygen as well as other carbon and hydrogen atoms. Acetone is a type of ketone, which is an organic molecule that has a carbonyl group (but more on that later).

Acetone's claim to fame is that it's a great solvent, meaning it can dissolve other substances. This is due to its chemical makeup. Let's explore how acetone mixes with some substances like water, alcohol, and iodine.


Acetone and Water

Acetone is able to fully dissolve in water, meaning it's miscible in water. Initially, that probably doesn't sound impressive, but many organic compounds don't mix well with water.

So how is acetone able to mix with water? For starters, acetone is small, which helps, but there's more. Acetone has a carbonyl group, which is a carbon double bonded to an oxygen.

A carbonyl group. R groups indicate there are other elements attached to the carbon.
carbonyl group

This carbonyl group is polar, meaning the compound has a slight charge. As a general rule, polar molecules can dissolve in polar molecules. Since water is polar, and acetone is polar due to the carbonyl group, they can mix.

Acetone and Alcohol

So what about alcohol and acetone? Alcohol is an organic compound that is polar, like acetone. It has an oxygen bonded to a hydrogen as its distinguishing feature.

An alcohol

When acetone is mixed with an alcohol, it can produce a hemiacetal (sometimes spelled 'hemiketal').

Because acetone is polar, the oxygen on the carbonyl group is slightly negative and the carbon is slightly positive. The alcohol is also polar, with the oxygen being slightly negative. The negative oxygen on the alcohol goes after the slightly positive carbon on the carbonyl group. The eventual result is the hemiacetal.

A reaction between a ketone and an acohol. Remember, acetone is a type of ketone.

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