Difference Between Acetone and Styrofoam (With Table)

Difference Between Acetone and Styrofoam (With Table)

Acetone and Styrofoam are the organic compounds which are very well known to disappear things. They both find extensive applications in various industrial sectors besides their conventional use in laboratories working in various fields. They are different from each other in several aspects because of their varied physical and chemical properties.

Acetone vs Styrofoam

“The main difference between Acetone and Styrofoam is the time required to disappear the things. Acetone can immediately disappear from any substance, which is why it’s the most commonly used cleansing agent in laboratories. On the other hand, Styrofoam takes some time to dissolve the same. Also, acetone can disappear from Styrofoam”.

Difference Between Acetone and Styrofoam

Acetone is a mobile liquid classified as the ‘ketone’ with a chemical formula of (CH3)2CO and a pungent odour. It is also produced in the body (liver) when fat is burnt instead of glucose for energy, along with several other ketones. Acetone finds applications in manufacturing plastics, resins, etc., but is primarily utilized as a cleansing agent.

Styrofoam is an expanded polystyrene that is a hard, synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer produced from the polymerization of styrene. It is mainly used in the food service industry to make containers, disposable eating plates, trays, etc. Styrofoam is 95% air (approximately). It is injected gases at the stage of manufacturing to make it lightweight.

Comparison Table Between Acetone and Styrofoam

Parameters of ComparisonAcetoneStyrofoam
ComponentsElements of carbon, hydrogen and oxygenExpanded polystyrene beads
Chemical formula(CH3)2CO(C8H8)n
SolubilityMiscible with water and many other organic solventsModerately soluble in organic solvents
ColorColorlessLight blue
UsesMostly as cleansing agentsUsed in coolers, in packaging as a cushioning material and for insulation purposes

What is Acetone ?

Acetone is a colourless and flammable liquid which evaporates quite rapidly. It is also known by several names, such as 2-propanone, dimethyl ketone, and beta-ketopropane. Its molecular weight is 58.08 g/mol, and its melting and boiling points are -95ºC and 56ºC. It occurs naturally in the trees, volcanic eruptions, landfills, etc.

Exposure to acetone may irritate the eyes, skin, nose or throat. It has several laboratory and industrial applications, especially in personal care products like nail polish removers. It is well soluble in water and other such organic solvents. Industries produce acetone to manufacture lacquered plastics and remove grease from the textiles.

What is Styrofoam ?

Styrofoam is an EPS (expanded polystyrene foam), a type of plastic used to make products such as food packaging and lab equipment. It is a poor conductor of heat and is mostly used in food packaging as containers, coffee cups, etc. Styrofoam is referred to as the ‘Blue Board’ very often. Styrene is refined to form polystyrene by polymerization, adding a hydrofluorocarbon agent to form Styrofoam.

Nonetheless, its use has been pretty controversial because of its non-biodegradable nature and the considerable harm caused to the environment. It has also been reported to exhibit carcinogenic properties owing to the quantity of styrene, a petroleum-based product, present in the same.

Main Differences Between Acetone and Styrofoam

  1. Acetone is colorless. On the contrary, Styrofoam is light blue.
  2. Acetone is miscible with water and many other organic solvents, whereas Styrofoam is only moderately soluble in organic solvents.
  3. Acetone is mainly used as a cleansing agent, while Styrofoam is used mostly in coolers, in packaging as a cushioning material and for insulation.
  4. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen elements form the chemical composition of the Acetone. On the other hand, Styrofoam is synthesised from a polymer.
  5. Acetone occurs naturally in the environment, but Styrofoam is a synthetic compound.


The organic compounds discussed above play a significant role in the research carried out in the traditional laboratories working in chemistry and other such branches. Also, many industries, especially those of paints, varnishes, and food packaging, rely upon these chemicals as the source of their raw material. Therefore, it is important to understand their properties and chemical basis to apply them accordingly.


  1. http://papers.cumincad.org/cgi-bin/works/Show&_id=caadria2010_056/paper/caadria2019_197
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed076p1079
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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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