What is Methyl Ethyl Ketone?
Methyl ethyl ketone, or MEK, is a liquid chemical. It appears colorless and has a sweet odor. This chemical is soluble in water but is extremely flammable and volatile. It is a rather harsh chemical, having much harsher properties than acetone, another common solvent.
MEK, due to its harsh nature, can cause irritation of the nose, throat, skin, and eyes through its vapor and potential ingestion. These effects can be avoided or minimized through the use of PPE, or personal protection equipment, provided by the lab. This includes the use of gloves, splash-resistant goggles, face shields, lab coats, or other protective clothing.
What is Methyl Ethyl Ketone Used for?
This chemical is found in many industrial and commercial labs. It is only found in a few everyday items because of its harsh nature. Certain properties make it ideal for the composition of certain products. Products that you can find MEK in include:
- Printing ink
- Synthetic rubber
- Dry-erase markers
This chemical is also used in the manufacturing of many items. The composition of MEK allows it to be an incredibly effective solvent. Some industries it is used in include:
- Degreasing (ability to break down oil and other non-polar solutions readily)
- Removal of adhesives, paints, and glues
- Hardening of resins and synthetic rubber
- Solvent in dye production
- Curing agent for polyester resin
- Plastic welding agent
- Dissolving of plastics
- Cleaning pumps and other equipment
This is an extremely diverse chemical with many different uses industrially and commercially. While you won’t find this chemical drifting about in your household items, it is useful in the production and manufacture of many different things.
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