The short answer is no, and for very good reasons. As acetone is a powerful solvent, it may seem logical to use it to unclog a blocked drain or plughole, and it would be an easy way to get rid of your waste acetone. However, while it will probably dissolve whatever is blocking your drain, it probably won’t stop there. As acetone also melts many plastics as well as some synthetics, your PVC pipes are at risk, and there are environmental and health implications as well.
Acetone is a clear, volatile and flammable liquid with a fruity smell, and is an excellent solvent used across many industries including cosmetics, plastics, textiles and the automotive industry. One of the benefits of acetone is that it is also safe to use domestically, and it is found in products such as nail polish remover, paint thinner and some cleaning products such as de-greasers. More than six million tonnes of acetone is produced each year to cover this demand, which in turn produces a lot of waste product which needs to be disposed of carefully.
Why can’t I pour acetone down the drain or plughole?
- A number of pipes in plumbing systems are plastic and could therefore be melted by the acetone, degrading the plumbing system and incurring cost in terms of both time and money.
- Waste water from both your sink and toilet goes through a water treatment process at a local treatment facility. These processes don’t normally filter out chemicals that shouldn’t be in the water, and so this could mean that any acetone getting through this process poisons plants and wildlife. There’s also the possibility that this water could get into crops that people then eat.
- The most dangerous aspect of acetone is how flammable it is, and there have been occasions when its vapours have ignited in drains and caused explosions.
These are obviously good reasons not to pour acetone down the drain, so how do you dispose of it?
How to safely dispose of acetone
If you only have a small amount of acetone to dispose of, soak it up with some kitchen roll or tissue and put it in a metal bin with a disposable bin liner. It can go out with the regular rubbish.
If you have a larger amount, it can be placed in a metal bowl in the open air, out of the reach of children, animals and any ignition sources. Simply leaving the acetone uncovered will mean it evaporates and you can simply clean the bowl when it’s gone.
Industrial disposal of acetone
To dispose of acetone on an industrial scale, you will need to use a hazardous waste, treatment or recycling company who can bulk process the waste on your behalf. You can find a local company who can dispose of your waste acetone through the gov.uk website.
At ReAgent, we make and supply acetone for analytical, general and laboratory use, not for pouring down the drain.