Difference Between Acetone and Styrofoam (With Table)

Acetone and Styrofoam are the organic compounds, which are very well known to disappear things. Both of them find extensive applications in various industrial sectors besides their conventional use in laboratories working on a variety of fields. They are different from each other in a number of 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 disappear any substance quite immediately that 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 Styrofoam”.

Difference Between Acetone and Styrofoam

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

Styrofoam is an expanded polystyrene that is a hard, synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer produced form the polymerization of styrene. It is mainly used in the food-service industry to make food containers, disposable eating plates, trays, etc. Basically, Styrofoam is 95% air (approximately). It is injected gases at the stage of manufacturing in order 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 colorless and flammable liquid which evaporates quite rapidly. It is also known by a number of names such as 2-propanone, dimethyl ketone, and beta-ketopropane. Its molecular weight is 58.08 g/mol and melting point and boiling point are -95ºC and 56ºC. It occurs naturally in the trees, volcanic eruptions, landfills, etc.

Exposure to acetone may cause irritation in the eyes, skin, nose or throat. It has a number of laboratory and industrial applications especially in personal care products such as nail polish removers. It is well soluble in water and other such organic solvents. Industries produce acetone to manufacture lacquers, plastics and remove grease form 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 equipments. It is a poor conductor of heat and mostly used in the food packaging industry in form of food containers, coffee cups, etc. Styrofoam is referred as the ‘Blue Board’ the very often. Styrene is refined to form polystyrene by polymerization to which a hydrofluorocarbon agent is added to form Styrofoam.

Nonetheless, its use has been pretty controversial because of its non-biodegradable nature and considerable harm caused to the environment as a result of this. 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

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


The organic compounds discussed above play a significant role in the research being carried out in the traditional laboratories working in the field of chemistry and other such branches. Also, many industries especially those of paints, varnishes, and food packaging relies upon these chemicals as the source of their raw material. Thereby, it is important to understand their properties and chemical basis of the same so that they can be applied accordingly.