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What is MEK?

January 11, 2023

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK, 2-Butanone, or Butanone) is a colorless liquid used throughout many industrial facilities. MEK shares many properties with acetone as they are both industrial solvents, but MEK is harsher, making it a common choice for heavy-duty applications. When mishandled, Methyl Ethyl Ketone can pollute the air, increase the risk of explosion or fire, and raise the overall hazard level of your job site.

What is Methyl Ethyl Ketone?

MEK (C4H8O) is a highly flammable and colorless liquid characterized by a sharp odor. It is very corrosive, naturally oxidized, and an effective solvent. Soluble in water and alcohol, this liquid ketone is used widely throughout industrial applications.

Typical Uses for 2-Butanone

MEK as an Industrial Cleaning Agent

2-Butanone’s main application is as an industrial cleaning agent due to MEK’s corrosive properties. It can work as a degreaser, remove adhesives, and many other coatings, such as glue, dirt, paint, and more. It is often used to prepare surfaces before new paint is applied, such as in automotive applications, aerospace assemblies, and marine uses.

Uses for MEK in Petrochemical Plastic Manufacturing

Depending on your specifications, Butanone can be used as a hardener in resins, synthetic rubbers, and solvents while producing chemicals for plastic manufacturing operations. MEK is also commonly applied as a curing agent in fiberglass, plastics, and unsaturated polyester resin manufacturing.

MEK for Paints, Dyes & Glue

MEK is a common component in many paints, paint products, paint removers, glues, and other consumer products such as dry erase markers. It works as a solvent within the dye, ensuring ink and pigment are transferred properly. The sharp smell associated with these products is often a result of Butanone.

Using Methyl Ethyl Ketone as a Cleaner Can Be Hazardous for Workers

While MEK remains a vital aspect of many industrial applications, it can be hazardous to workers, particularly when applied as a cleaner or solvent. Signs and symptoms of MEK exposure include eye, nose, and throat irritation, coughing, dizziness, headaches, nausea or vomiting, and skin irritation. MEK exposure has also been linked to several long-term consequences, such as compromised reproductive abilities, cancer, and permanent damage to the nervous system and brain.

Follow these tips to minimize MEK exposure:

  • Only use 2-Butanone in properly ventilated or outdoor areas
  • Utilize appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times
  • Replace Methyl Ethyl Ketone with non-hazardous industrial cleaners and solvent alternatives

Choose AcraStrip Cleaners as a Safe Alternative to MEK

One way to lower risk in your facility is to substitute MEK used for industrial cleaning with an alternative, such as AcraStrip products, particularly the 600 Series cleaners. Developed in tandem with the EPA, AcraStrip is highly effective at removing cured and uncured resins, flushing substances from paint guns, stripping paints and coatings, and much more. Other beneficial characteristics of AcraStrip include:

  • Biodegradable and recyclable
  • Safely cleans catalyzed resin from parts and tools
  • Contains no environmentally hazardous ingredients
  • Non-flammable and non-hazardous

Additionally, unlike MEK, AcraStrip products don’t require special handling during shipping, specific training, or explosion-proof storage. USA-made for USA quality, AcraStrip will create a safer workplace with fewer hazards compared to facilities that use 2-Butanone as an industrial cleaner.

Get Started with High-Performance MEK Replacement Cleaners Today

Contact AcraStrip or call 800-431-2072 today to learn more about replacing MEK as an industrial cleaner in your facility with safe and effective AcraStrip products. We’ll help you navigate our inventory to find the best solution for your operation.