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What is MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone)?

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) also known as 2-butanone, is an organic solvent commonly used in various industrial applications. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the properties of MEK, its uses, and how it compares to other solvents available in the market. We will also discuss the products available at Alliance Chemical and how they can be utilized in various industries.

Properties of MEK

MEK is a colorless liquid with a sharp, sweet odor. It is highly flammable and volatile, which means it evaporates quickly at room temperature. MEK is miscible with water and many organic solvents, making it a versatile and useful solvent in various applications. Some of the key properties of MEK include:

  • Chemical formula: C4H8O
  • Molecular weight: 72.11 g/mol
  • Boiling point: 79.6°C (175.3°F)
  • Flashpoint: -9°C (15.8°F)
  • Solubility in water: 29.3 g/100 mL (20°C)

Common Applications of MEK

MEK’s versatility as a solvent makes it suitable for a range of applications. Some of its most common uses include:

1. Paints and Coatings

MEK is widely used in the paint and coatings industry as a powerful solvent for thinning and dissolving various types of paints, lacquers, and resins. It also acts as a fast-evaporating solvent, which helps in achieving a smooth, uniform finish on surfaces.

2. Adhesives

MEK is an effective solvent for many adhesives, including cyanoacrylates, urethanes, and epoxies. It is commonly used in the manufacturing of adhesive products and can also be used to clean adhesive residues.

3. Printing Inks

MEK is used in the printing industry as a solvent for various printing inks, including flexographic and gravure inks. It is chosen for its ability to dissolve a wide range of resins, resulting in inks with excellent drying and adhesion properties.

4. Cleaning and Degreasing

MEK’s strong solvency and fast evaporation rate make it a popular choice for cleaning and degreasing applications. It effectively removes oil, grease, and other contaminants from metal surfaces without leaving a residue.

Comparing MEK to Other Solvents

There are several other solvents with properties and applications similar to MEK. Some of these solvents include:

1. Isopropyl Alcohol 99.9% ACS

Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) is a versatile solvent used for cleaning, disinfecting, and degreasing applications. While IPA is less aggressive compared to MEK, it can still be an effective alternative for some applications.

2. n-Butyl Acetate

n-Butyl Acetate is a slower-evaporating solvent often used in coatings, varnishes, and adhesives. It is less aggressive than MEK but can still be a suitable alternative for specific applications.

3. Acetone Technical Grade

Acetone is a powerful, fast-evaporating solvent that can be used for many of the same applications as MEK, such as degreasing, cleaning, and thinning paints.

4. Ethyl Acetate

Ethyl Acetate is a relatively fast-evaporating solvent with a fruity odor. It is used in various applications, such as paint thinners, adhesives, and inks. While it is not as aggressive as MEK, it can still be a suitable alternative for some uses.

5. Toluene

Toluene is an aromatic hydrocarbon solvent known for its high solvency and fast evaporation rate. It is commonly used in paint thinners, adhesives, and cleaning agents. Toluene can be considered a more aggressive solvent than MEK in certain applications.

Alliance Chemical’s Offerings

Alliance Chemical offers a variety of high-quality solvents for various applications. Some of the products available include:

These solvents are suitable for various industries and applications, including paint and coatings, adhesives, cleaning, and more. By understanding the properties and uses of each solvent, you can choose the most suitable one for your specific needs.

Safety and Handling of MEK

Due to its flammable and volatile nature, proper safety precautions must be taken when handling and using MEK. Some safety measures include:

  • Use MEK in well-ventilated areas to prevent the buildup of vapors.
  • Store MEK in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from heat sources, open flames, and sparks.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling MEK, such as gloves, goggles, and respiratory protection.
  • Dispose of MEK-contaminated waste in accordance with local regulations.


MEK is a versatile and powerful solvent with numerous applications across various industries. Understanding its properties and uses, as well as comparing it to other solvents available in the market, can help you make an informed decision on which solvent is most suitable for your needs. Alliance Chemical offers a wide range of high-quality solvents, including MEK and its alternatives, to cater to your specific requirements.

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