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IAQUK Resources - Butyl Acetate

History and Production


Vinyl acetate was first discovered in 1912 by German scientist Fritz Klatte, who would later be credited with developing polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Vinyl acetate was first mass produced in 1928 by a German chemical plant and used as an ingredient in a variety of industrial applications. Butyl Acetate was not discovered until the 1940s. The first record of this substance can be found in a 1945 article by Rolf Altschul in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.  These products are made by combining acetic acid with another chemical or compound. Vinyl acetate is a blend of acetic acid, ethylene and oxygen, which reacts to form a liquid chemical plus water. Butyl Acetate is made by dissolving acetic acid and butanol in a base of sulfuric acid.


Butyl Acetate is used to create solvents and lacquers, but it is also used as a fruit flavouring in food and candy.  Though they are derived from the same chemical, the different types of acetate each have very different features. Vinyl acetate is a clear liquid with a strong odor. It is highly flammable and the fumes produced by this material can be toxic. Butyl Acetate is also colorless, but has a sweet, fruity smell. It is naturally found in fruits like apples and bananas and is also produced in laboratories. 


It is used as a solvent in many types of products. The largest use is in paint & lacquer. Other large uses are in adhesive and hardener. N-Butyl Acetate is also used in production of medicals as a solvent/extraction agent. Minor uses occur also in anticorrosive agents, sealing agents, putty, cleaning agents and car care products. In paints, N-Butyl Acetate replaces older types of organic solvents that are associated with health and environmental problems.


Health effects


Butyl Acetate. The chemical is known to cause respiratory problems. And by comparing it with other similar organic compounds, the assumption is made that long-term exposure to high concentrations would result in damage to the nervous system.

Scientists have discovered that the Butyl Acetates are present in the so-called alarm pheromones secreted by animals particularly insects.  An alarm pheromone is a chemical secreted when an animal is under attack. It alerts other animals in the neighborhood to the attack and "tells" them to respond to the attack that has been detected.

Technical - Butyl Acetate - C 6H 12 O 2

  • Colourless liquid
  • Fruity odour
  • CAS Number: 123-86-4
  • LTEL - 150ppm (724 mg/m³)
  • STEL - 200ppm (966mg/m³)
  • Risk Phrases: R10, 11, 36
  • Safety Phrases: S9, 16, 25, 46, 37, 39, 51

Butyl Acetate is a colourless and volatile liquid of low viscosity. The liquid dissolves relatively easy in water. The volatility is reduced in water solution. It has a strong fruity smell and the taste is similar to banana.  This substance belongs to the group of esters, which normally is synthesized by a reaction between an organic acid and an alcohol, in this case acetic acid and butyl alcohol.  The world consumption is estimated to be about 530 000 tonnes/year.


Synonyms: N-Butyl Acetate; Normal Butyl Acetate; Acetic Acid N-Butyl Ester; N-Butyl Ethanoate; Ethanoic Acid N-Butyl Ester.