Differences Between Acetone and Styrofoam (With Table)

Organic compounds are a very fascinating part of chemistry where many kinds of different substances are formed. In the same field, two compounds exist, i.e. Acetone and Styrofoam. Relation in both of them is just, Acetone dissolves Styrofoam, and Styrofoam gets dissolved. And it is fascinating, that how much Styrofoam can be dissolved in a little Acetone?

Acetone vs Styrofoam

The main difference between Acetone and Styrofoam is that Acetone is a liquid state organic compound, which is more popular for cleaning purposes as it dissolves anything in seconds. On the other hand, Styrofoam is a solid-state compound, which is a long chain of molecules. It is more popular in manufacturing disposable crockery and insulation in buildings.

Acetone is an organic compound. It belongs to the propane family. Its chemical formula is (CH3)2CO. It is colorless, flammable, volatile, a good solvent, and miscible in water. It is much popular because of its cleaning properties. On the industry level, it is one of the most demanded chemicals.

Styrofoam is made of polystyrene, formed by very long chains of molecules known as a polymer. It is hard, light in weight, mostly blue in color,  rough but crunchy. It is also a bad conductor of heat, therefore it is also used for building isolation. It is also popular in manufacturing food containers, bases of roads, etc.

Comparison Table Between Acetone and Styrofoam

Parameters of ComparisonAcetoneStyrofoam
DefinitionAcetone is an organic compound in the liquid state, also known as propanone.Styrofoam is polystyrene foam, made of long chains of polymers.
FormulaThe chemical formula of Acetone is (CH3)2CO.The chemical formula of Styrofoam is  C8H8.
Chemical PropertiesAcetone is highly flammable and volatile & miscible in water.Styrofoam is a light, rough, poor heat conductor, and blue in color.
UsesUsed as a solvent, used in paints and varnishes, and most popularly for cleaning purposes.Used as cushioning material for packaging, for making disposable crockery, and insulation of walls.
RelationAcetone can react with polystyrene bonds and dissolve Styrofoam.Styrofoam gets dissolved in Acetone.

What is Acetone?

Acetone is an organic compound. It is a part of the propane category and the smallest ketone. It is transparent, highly volatile, and inflammable. It is a very good solvent and dissolves in water very easily.

It was discovered by Andrew Libavius in the year 1606. Acetone is produced by the United States on a very large scale. As well as United States, China, Taiwan, etc. are the biggest consumers of acetone in the world.

Due to its high volatility, it is used in paints and varnishes. It also gets evaporated easily. In industries, acetone is also used as a solvent. It is also used to manufacture methyl methacrylate due to its small size and high volatility.

Acetone is also produced by the human body, during the process of metabolism. Bodies of diabetes patients produce more acetone than a normal human. And it is disposed of through the body with the help of urine and blood.

Sometimes, in rare cases, farmers also use acetone, as a pesticide in farms, to keep unwanted insects and pests away from the plants. But on a large scale, acetone is highly demanded in laboratories, households, and factories for cleaning purposes.

As we know, acetone is popular for disappearing things in seconds. Through its properties, it became an important element, in almost every sector of the economy. And acetone is very easy to dispose of and safe for the environment too.

What is Styrofoam?

Styrofoam is a long chain, polymer substance. It is also known as the blue board. Its chemical base is polystyrene. During the manufacturing process, polystyrene is exposed to 95% of air, which gives it a foamy and light texture but hard structure.

Styrofoam is manufactured by the Dow Chemical Company, an America-based MNC. This company is one of the largest producers of chemicals, plastic, and other products of the agriculture sector like fertilizers, pesticides, etc. It is one of the world’s top three largest chemical manufacturers in the world. They own the brand mark and license of Styrofoam.

Styrofoam is very popular for its hard but light texture, which makes it suitable for disposable crockery like cups, bowls, etc. Due to its poor heat conduction, it is also used for insulation of walls and roofs of the building.

Above all this, Styrofoam is used during the construction of roads, so that effect of soil disturbance under the road can be minimized. This is a very excellent way of using Styrofoam. It is also used in coolers.

Styrofoam does not dissolve in water or any other simple liquid, and due to its buoyancy, it floats over water. But the main problem with Styrofoam is its disposal. It’s not easy to dispose of Styrofoam. And on burning, it produces many harmful gases, which are not good for our environment and health.

Main Differences Between Acetone and Styrofoam

  1. Both are organic compounds, but Acetone is a liquid compound, whereas Styrofoam is a solid compound.
  2. Acetone is used for cleaning purposes, whereas Styrofoam is used for the manufacturing of disposals, insulation purposes, etc.
  3. Acetone dissolves in water very easily, on the other hand, Styrofoam does not dissolve in water but floats over it.
  4. Acetone is the smallest ketone in the ketone family, where Styrofoam is made of long chains of polymer (i.e. polystyrene).
  5. Acetone is easily disposable and safe for the environment, on the other hand, Styrofoam is not easy to dispose of, and also is not safe for our environment.
  6. Burning acetone produces carbon dioxide and water, and in lack of oxygen, it can produce carbon monoxide, but nothing more than that.
  7. On the other hand, burning Styrofoam produces various harmful gases that are not safe for us.


Acetone and Styrofoam both are very popular organic compounds in local markets too. Hence they play a very important role in supporting many economic sectors. Acetone is very popular for its magic-like properties of disappearing things in seconds.

While Styrofoam is popular for its light, but hard structure-forming properties. Many packaging and disposable cups and plates manufacturing units use Styrofoam.

The relation between Acetone and Styrofoam is that, due to their chemical structures, Styrofoam gets dissolved into Acetone, just like salt dissolves in water. You will be amazed to know that, one cup of acetone can dissolve a bean bag full of Styrofoam beads.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/0471435139.tox074
  2. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4684-3099-8_39