Difference Between Acetone and Chloroform (With Table)

Today’s world depends greatly on science and technology. For new inventions and to implement technology we need different materials. Chemicals are indispensable for any innovations. They are used by people for almost every activity in daily life. Different chemical compounds have different applications. Chemical compounds are classified among them into different categories based on their properties.

Acetone vs Chloroform

The main difference between acetone and chloroform is that acetone is one of the common solvents used while chloroform is a compound generally used as an anesthetic for medical purposes. Chloroform is also used as a compound in the production of some pesticides. Acetone has a wide application in the cosmetic industry.

Acetone is a flammable organic compound. It gives off a pungent smell that is floral to cucumber-like. It is produced in industry for its application as solvent. Andreas Libavius was the scientist who produced acetone for the first time in 1606. A larger proportion of the industrial acetone produced is synthesized via the cumene process.

Chloroform is widely known for its medical use. It has a strong smell and is colorless. It is an important component used in refrigeration. It gives a euphoric and sedative effect when taken in or inhaled. Though it has good applications it is found to have carcinogenic and teratogenic effects. It is also produced by some fungi and seaweeds.

Comparison Table Between Acetone and Chloroform

Parameters of Comparison




Inflammable so it must be handled carefully

Not inflammable





It is less toxic and causes only skin and eye irritation when contacted

It is highly toxic and causes coma, jaundice, or other severe effects


As a solvent, Thinning paint and removing nail polish

Anesthetic, in Fire extinguishers and solvent

Natural sources

Produced in the body by ketosis

Fungi and seaweeds produce it.

What is Acetone?

Acetone was produced by a fermentation method using Clostridium acetobutylicum bacteria during the time of World War I. But with the identification of new and simpler methods like the cumene process, the older method was abandoned. Acetone is also produced in the human body at certain times. People who are in a long fasting or special diets with low carbohydrates and high-fat content have increased amount of ketone bodies.

When ketones are high in the body ketosis occurs. This process causes the formation of acetone. The major role of acetone in the industry is as a solvent. It is also used as varnish in painting. In cosmetics, acetone has an important role as nail polish removers. It can also be used to clean paint from unwanted areas.

Paint thinners are essential for thinning and loosening paints. Acetone is used for this purpose. It is also used to clean laboratory equipment. It is also a de-stainer that can be used on some type of stain. Acetone is also good for acne treatments since it is a good chemical exfoliator. It is used in the defatting step of exfoliation.

Acetone is found to cause skin and eye irritation. It is not extremely hazardous like many other chemicals. The high volatile nature of acetone makes it a compound with fewer environmental effects. Besides these functions acetone is also used in laboratories as a reagent for many experiments.

What is Chloroform?

The most common anesthetic Chloroform is produced industrially for its use in medicine. It is also produced by some type of fungi and seaweeds. 90 percentage of the chloroform in the atmosphere is released by natural sources. Both biotic and abiotic sources are responsible for the production of chloroform.

It is volatile and does not accumulate in aquatic organisms. Its volatile nature helps it to leave the soil and degrade in the air. When bleaching powder is used to sanitize the common household mixes with compounds like ethanol and acetone they produce a small amount of chloroform. But in industry, it is produced by mixing methane with chlorine.

Chloroform is also used as a solvent for oils, rubber, resins, and wax. It is used in fire extinguishers. Chloroform is used as a solvent for NMR spectroscopy. Chloroform was used for surgical procedures in the 1850s in the UK. It gained a great reach as an anesthetic. But, its toxicity was identified as then its usage was limited. Now many other choices are available and the use of chloroform has become very limited in the medical field.

It was experimentally proved in 1911 that chloroform induces cardiac fibrillation. It is also illegally used by criminals to knock out their victims. Since it is formed as a result of bleaching powder reacting with other compounds it is commonly found in chlorinated tap waters. Chloroform caused severe medical conditions like jaundice and coma in humans exposed to high amounts of Chloroform.

Main Differences Between Acetone and Chloroform

  1. The main role of acetone is in Nail polish remover and as paint thinners. But, Chloroform has an important role as an anesthetic
  2. Acetone is not carcinogenic or teratogenic whereas, chloroform is toxic and has carcinogenic and teratogenic effects
  3. Acetone is formed in the body of people that are fasting and takes a diet rich in fat and low in carbohydrates while chloroform is naturally produced by some organisms
  4. Acetone is considered a compound with no adverse side effects but chloroform can cause jaundice, coma, or liver damage
  5. Acne treatments that come with exfoliation sometimes involve Acetone. Chloroform is crucial in spectroscopy and Chromatography.


Both Acetone and Chloroform are different chemical compounds. They both differ in their properties and thus functions. Acetone was initially produced by an alchemist but, researchers in the 1830s synthesized chloroform for their research. Both are volatile and colorless. Acetone is less toxic compared to Chloroform which is highly toxic and has deadly effects on people.

Chemicals are greatly beneficial but they also have a dark side. When used beyond a certain amount they have lethal or mild effects on humans. So it is always best to handle the chemicals wisely. Overdose should be avoided in the case of chloroform. Owing to its toxic nature the use of chloroform has been greatly reduced.


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00268979400101331
  2. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/93JD00764