When you are working with acetone, or any other potentially hazardous chemical, it is important to protect yourself with the correct gloves. Since acetone is a liquid and a strong chemical solvent, it can potentially penetrate or even dissolve some glove materials. This will lead to skin contact with acetone which can result in irritation. Picking the correct gloves will give you the best possible protection from this hazard.
Permeation, Breakthrough, Degradation
The concept of which solvent a glove will stand up to is complex. Most gloves used with liquid solvents will have a permeation factor. This means the solvent will slowly seep through the glove to your skin. For this reason, the glove may protect you, but only for a limited time. The breakthrough time tells you how quickly a given chemical will penetrate a given glove, although this will depend on other factors such as thickness and temperature. Some solvents will simply degrade some glove materials; either dissolving the glove completely or making it brittle or otherwise unusable.
The glove material which stands up best to acetone is butyl rubber. Butyl rubber is an artificial polymer and is somewhat more specialised than most glove materials. It is also more expensive than some other common glove materials. It has very good resistance to acetone and is recommended for this use. Natural rubber, also known as latex, is another option, although it has about a 10 minute breakthrough time when used with acetone. Latex can also result in allergic reactions for some people.
There are a few other types of glove materials commonly encountered in labs that are not recommended for use with acetone. Nitrile is a fairly common alternative to latex as a glove material, since it does not produce the same allergic response, and is often used as a generic lab glove. However, it has poor resistance to acetone, with a four minute breakthrough time. Neoprene has some resistance to acetone but is not as good as either butyl or latex.
There may be many other aspects of your process that you have to consider when choosing gloves. For example, a glove which rips or punctures will no longer protect you. Make sure you pick a glove that is durable enough to stand up to the type of work you anticipate doing. If you are going to be performing jobs that might put strain on the glove or that involve sharp edges, pick a glove that is made of very thick material. The length of the glove can also be important. If you anticipate splashing or immersing your hands in acetone, pick gloves that extend further up the arm.
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- J T Baker: Material Safety Data Sheet: Acetone
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety and Health: Chemical Protective Clothing - Gloves
- Argonne National Laboratory: Glove Selection Guideline
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus: Acetone Poisoning
- U.S. Dept of Agriculture: Glove Selection for Some Specific Chemicals