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Chemicals and Solvents

Chemicals and Solvents

Understanding the Industrial Uses of Acetonitrile

Acetonitrile is an organic solvent with a variety of industrial and chemical uses. From herbicides and pharmaceuticals to paints, plastics, and dyes, this compound plays an important role in many manufacturing processes. Learn more about acetonitrile and its applications here.

What is Acetonitrile?

Acetonitrile is an organic solvent characterized by its non-flammability and low toxicity. It has a distinctive sweet smell, colorless liquid appearance, and high boiling point. It is widely used as a chemical intermediate in the production of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, dyes, plastics, and other materials.

Acetonitrile Chemical Properties:


Chemical formula


Molar mass

41.053 g·mol−1


Colorless liquid


Faint, distinct, fruity


0.786 g/cm3 at 25°C

Melting point

−46 to −44 °C; −51 to −47 °F; 227 to 229 K

Boiling point

81.3 to 82.1 °C; 178.2 to 179.7 °F; 354.4 to 355.2 K

Solubility in water


log P


Vapor pressure

9.71 kPa (at 20.0 °C)

Henry's law
constant (kH)

530 μmol/(Pa·kg)

Acidity (pKa)


UV-vis (λmax)

195 nm



Magnetic susceptibility (χ)

−28.0×10−6 cm3/mol

Refractive index (nD)


How is Acetonitrile Used in Chemistry?

Acetonitrile is a versatile chemical that has a variety of uses and applications in chemistry. It can be used as a solvent for coupling reactions, chromatographic separations, and the synthesis of organic compounds. It is also often used in the purification of pharmaceuticals and anesthetics due to its low toxicity. Additionally, acetonitrile can be used to accurately measure the concentrations of acids or bases in solutions through titrations.

What are the Advantages of Using Acetonitrile?

Acetonitrile is a highly advantageous solvent for many different types of industrial and laboratory applications. Its low toxicity and flammability make it an ideal solvent for handling and storing in a laborato. Its high solubility also allows it to dissolve a wide variety of materials such as oils, resins, rubber, and other organic compounds with ease. Additionally, its low viscosity makes acetonitrile excellent for use in chromatography methods because it has the ability to separate out differing molecules from one another based on polarity or size.

Acetonitrile also has a very low freezing point, making it ideal for use in cryogenic processes. It can be used to freeze, store, and transport different chemicals and materials. Additionally, acetonitrile is highly unlikely to form any dangerous peroxides when stored for long periods of time, unlike other solvents such as ethers or alcohols. This makes it an excellent choice for storage purposes due to its reduced risk of explosive incidents when handled properly.

Top industrial uses of Acetonitrile

Acetonitrile is a chemical compound with the formula CH3CN. It is a colorless liquid that is miscible with water and many organic solvents. Acetonitrile has a variety of industrial uses, including:

  1. Solvent: Acetonitrile is widely used as a solvent in chemical syntheses, extractions, and purifications. It is particularly useful for dissolving polar compounds and has a high solvent power for many organic compounds.
  2. Chromatography: Acetonitrile is often used as an eluent (mobile phase) in chromatography, a technique used to separate and purify mixtures of chemicals. It is particularly useful in high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography (GC).
  3. Reagent: Acetonitrile is used as a reagent in the synthesis of a wide range of chemicals, including pharmaceuticals, dyes, and plastics.
  4. Analytical chemistry: Acetonitrile is used in a variety of analytical chemistry techniques, including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, infrared (IR) spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry (MS).
  5. Cleaning: Acetonitrile can be used to clean and degrease surfaces and equipment in a variety of industrial settings.
  6. Pesticide production: Acetonitrile is used in the production of certain pesticides.
  7. Extracting oil: Acetonitrile is used in the extraction of oil from shale and other sources.

What is Vacuum Distillation and How Does it Use Acetonitrile?

Vacuum distillation is a process that utilizes acetonitrile’s exceptional thermodynamic properties to separate different components in a given mixture. By lowering the pressure, boiling points are decreased enabling liquids and even gas that would not ordinarily be able to be separated, to now be successfully separated from each other. For example, an acetonitrile-water solution can be vaporized by use of heat at 90°C followed by vacuum distillation at 25°C making for easy separation of the volatile components from the non-volatile components in the original solution.

What are the Safety Considerations for Working with Acetonitrile?

When working with acetonitrile, it’s important to consider certain safety measures. Acetonitrile is hazardous if inhaled and may cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. Exposure to acetonitrile should be avoided in enclosed areas or any other enclosed spaces as acetonitrile can easily become flammable in an oxygen-rich environment. It’s recommended to wear protective clothing, eyewear, and gloves when handling this organic solvent. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher nearby for emergency purposes.

Where to Purchase Acetonitrile

Lab Pro can provide you with all your Acetonitrile requirements. Various sizes and percentages are available and ready to ship.

About Lab Pro

For over 40 years, Lab Pro Inc. has been committed to delivering the highest quality critical cleaners, hand tools, chemicals, lab equipment, distance learning kits, lab supplies, and cleanroom PPE apparel to medical device companies and laboratories worldwide. To learn more, visit the biggest Lab Supply showroom in California, or contact us online or at 888-452-2776.