Acetophenone vs. Benzophenone

What's the Difference?

Acetophenone and Benzophenone are both aromatic ketones with similar chemical structures, but they differ in the number and position of their phenyl groups. Acetophenone has a single phenyl group attached to the carbonyl carbon, while Benzophenone has two phenyl groups attached to the same carbon atom. This structural difference leads to variations in their physical and chemical properties. Benzophenone is more stable and has a higher melting point than Acetophenone. Additionally, Benzophenone exhibits stronger UV absorption properties, making it a common ingredient in sunscreens and other UV-protective products. On the other hand, Acetophenone is often used as a flavoring agent in the food industry due to its pleasant aroma.


Chemical FormulaC8H8OC13H10O
Molecular Weight120.15 g/mol182.22 g/mol
AppearanceColorless liquidColorless solid
OdorSweet, floralSweet, floral
SolubilitySoluble in alcohol, etherSoluble in alcohol, ether
Boiling Point202 °C305 °C
Melting Point-15 °C48.5 °C
UsesFlavoring agent, fragranceUV absorber, fragrance

Further Detail


Acetophenone and Benzophenone are both aromatic ketones that share similarities in their chemical structures and applications. However, they also possess distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore and compare the various characteristics of these compounds, including their physical properties, chemical reactivity, uses, and potential health effects.

Physical Properties

Acetophenone, also known as phenyl methyl ketone, is a colorless liquid with a sweet, flowery odor. It has a molecular formula of C8H8O and a molar mass of 120.15 g/mol. Acetophenone has a boiling point of 202 °C and a melting point of -15 °C. It is sparingly soluble in water but readily dissolves in organic solvents such as ethanol and ether.

Benzophenone, on the other hand, is a white crystalline solid with a slight odor. Its molecular formula is C13H10O, and it has a molar mass of 182.22 g/mol. Benzophenone has a higher boiling point than acetophenone, at 305 °C, and a melting point of 48 °C. It is practically insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents like ethanol and acetone.

Chemical Reactivity

Both acetophenone and benzophenone exhibit similar chemical reactivity due to the presence of the carbonyl group (C=O) in their structures. They can undergo various reactions, including nucleophilic addition, oxidation, and reduction.

Acetophenone can be reduced to produce phenylethanol using reducing agents like sodium borohydride. It can also undergo nucleophilic addition reactions with compounds such as Grignard reagents to form secondary alcohols. Additionally, acetophenone can be oxidized to form benzoic acid using strong oxidizing agents like potassium permanganate.

Benzophenone, on the other hand, is commonly used as a photoinitiator in the polymer industry. It absorbs UV light and undergoes a photochemical reaction, generating free radicals that initiate polymerization. This property makes benzophenone a valuable component in UV-curable coatings and adhesives.


Acetophenone finds applications in various industries. It is commonly used as a flavoring agent in the food industry, adding a sweet, floral note to products such as baked goods, candies, and beverages. Acetophenone is also utilized as an intermediate in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, dyes, and fragrances. Its ability to dissolve in organic solvents makes it a suitable solvent for cellulose derivatives and resins.

Benzophenone, on the other hand, has diverse uses. Apart from its role as a photoinitiator, it is employed as a fragrance ingredient in perfumes and cosmetics. Benzophenone is also utilized as a UV absorber in sunscreens and other personal care products to protect the skin from harmful UV radiation. Additionally, it serves as a starting material for the synthesis of various pharmaceuticals, polymers, and dyes.

Health Effects

While both acetophenone and benzophenone are generally considered safe for use in their intended applications, it is important to be aware of their potential health effects.

Acetophenone, when inhaled or ingested in large amounts, can cause irritation to the respiratory system, eyes, and skin. Prolonged exposure may lead to headaches, dizziness, and nausea. However, the concentrations typically encountered in food and fragrance applications are considered safe for consumption.

Benzophenone, on the other hand, has been associated with some concerns. Studies have suggested that prolonged exposure to high levels of benzophenone may have estrogenic effects, potentially disrupting hormonal balance. However, the concentrations used in cosmetic and sunscreen formulations are generally considered safe for use.


Acetophenone and Benzophenone are aromatic ketones with distinct attributes that make them valuable in various industries. Acetophenone is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor, while benzophenone is a white crystalline solid. They both exhibit chemical reactivity due to the carbonyl group in their structures, but their specific reactions differ. Acetophenone finds applications as a flavoring agent and solvent, while benzophenone is used as a photoinitiator, UV absorber, and fragrance ingredient. While both compounds have potential health effects, they are considered safe when used within recommended concentrations. Understanding the attributes of these compounds allows us to appreciate their versatility and importance in different fields.

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