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Simple question about setting fire to acetone

  1. Jan 27, 2007 #1
    What will happen? If I took a very small amount of pure acetone, put it in a bowl and went outside to set it on fire(safety first). I am curious because I am a hiker and I am working on a lightweight alcohol stove. I don't have any alcohol that seems to work right now but I do have acetone and I was wondering if it could be used as an alternative. I hope this doesn't sound too stupid but it seems to me that since they are both flammable liquids and denatured alcohol has acetone in it it might be ok to try.

    Also is it possible for me to mix say, 50% alcohol(rubbing) and X quantity of acetone in an attempt to get the fuel to burn better?

    Any info would be very helpful. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2007 #2


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    It might work but here are some things to think about:

    1. Vapor pressure of acetone at room temperature is roughly 4 to 5 times that for ethanol and isopropanol respectively. That means that it will probably light easier when it is cold but it will generate pressure when it warms up much more than either of the alcohols.

    2. Boiling point of acetone is about 20 to 25 degrees C lower than ethanol or IPA. This means that the reservoir might have to be better shielded from the heat of the flame or the cooking utensil. Might not be so bad during cold, windy weather.

    3. Acetone is a great solvent for a lot of plastics and causes some rubber compounds to swell considerably. Make sure that all that you own which might come in contact with acetone is compatible with it, especially cell phone, flashlight lenses, compass plastic, aluminized emergency blanket and anything made of styrene (like a GPS case). Acetone will wreck Gore-Tex. Map ink would probably be much more soluble in acetone than ethanol.
  4. Feb 1, 2007 #3
    From my experience acetone is way more flammable than alcohol. Its the kind of stuff that keeps lighting even after you stomp on it.
  5. Feb 4, 2007 #4


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    It's also important here to consider the flash point of acetone, my guess is that it would be very impractical as a fuel alternative, it wouldn't take the form of a steady fuel source that you're seeking.
  6. Feb 17, 2007 #5
    Is there a reason why you're wanting to use alcohol or acetone over just hydrocarbon chain fuels? Naphtha (aka white gas or Coleman fuel) makes a good portable stove fuel.
    If it's too volatile, why not try some kerosene? Mix naphtha and kero if you need something in between.
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