I used to clean my arrow-shafts with acetone before I applied glue. However, I was told that I should be more careful with it, because of its toxic vapors and stuff.

Which breathing mask is recommended? Should I wear glasses and/or gloves?

  • Mask doesn't help with acetone as it has very low molecular weight and gets right through, just as oxygen and nitrogen. To prevent it from getting into your lungs you'll have to breathe though some military breathing mask that filter out toxic gases (these have very limited lifespan and cost a fortune) or closed loop mask that takes air from another room or from a gas cylinder. But to get to such concentration of acetone in atmosphere to care that much you'd have to be boiling a bucket of it. Just keep the room well ventilated. Apr 12, 2016 at 14:43

4 Answers 4


Acetone is often used in nail polish removers, if it's at this strength no you would not need a mask, just make sure you're in a well ventilated room.

For high percentage acetone cleaners used to remove resins and such, you should think about wearing a ventilation mask, gloves, and also possibly goggles to protect your eyes - in addition to being in a well ventilated area.

Acetone Safety

  • Note that "pure" acetone is available with the nail polish removers as well. It's not exactly reagent grade but it's nominally 100%.
    – Chris H
    Apr 12, 2016 at 7:58
  • 1
    @ChrisH Is it? I've never had a 100% one, but I don't doubt you might be right - though you do not need to use gloves etc with it so it's probably a lesser grade yeah :) Imagine needing gloves to get off nail polish - wouldn't work!
    – Aravona
    Apr 12, 2016 at 8:02
  • I'm not expert in nail polish but the stronger stuff is used for some of the semi-permanent finishes (when it still requires a soak using cotton wool). I don't know if manicurists use gloves with acetone having never watched one at work.
    – Chris H
    Apr 12, 2016 at 14:45

If it stings your eyes you're probably working too close, but glasses wouldn't help (goggles might). If you're using it a lot you may find it dries your skin so you could choose to wear gloves (or avoid getting so much on your hands).

From using acetone a lot in industry and academia I can tell you that people use it freely without ill effects all the time.

If you're soaking stuff in it, use a lid as it evaporates fast. It's also flammable.


Acetone smells scary but is really one of the less dangerous chemicals used for dissolving stuff. Main nasty effects:

  • Drying skin almost instantly, not damaging it if cleaned quickly though
  • Temporary damage to CNS, can cause dizziness

I advise to do your job in outside or in ventilated area and wear gloves if you don't want to have dry skin. If you feel dry skin just use hand cream.

You should work in place with good lighting so that you don't watch your work closely - that would cause you to inhale more and generally increase exposure.

Don't smoke, don't apply on hot surfaces or on-line electrical devices (eg. in effort to clean connectors).

If you feel dizzy or tired cease your work and go for some fresh air. Seal the container properly before doing so though!

Read material data sheet on Acetone.


Unless you are exposed constantly, you can probably deal with this by setting up reasonable ventilation. Either work outside, and stand crossways to the wind, or set up an exhaust hood or fan to pull air from where you work to the outside.

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