Acetone is one of the best general cleaning solvents in the marine industry, but it's very important to know when and where you can or can't use it.
Generally, acetone is a great cleaning solvent that is commonly used on metals, wood, fiberglass, epoxy, polyester resin, and glass to remove contaminants, dirt, grease, wax, and oils. It evaporates quickly, works in many applications, and is usually easily accessible for consumers, at an affordable price. It's used for everything from fiberglass repairs to working as a nail polish remover.
Some epoxy manufacturers discuss thinning their epoxy products with acetone to lower the viscosity for applications like sealing wood grains. This should only be done with epoxy products that direct the user to do so, and only in the method given by the manufacturer.
Acetone has also been used as a thinner for gelcoat, commonly for spray applications, but it is very important to understand that it can change the cure properties or adjust the color of the gelcoat slightly as it cures. Styrene is generally seen as the proper solvent for thinning gelcoat.
Acetone should not be used on 1-part paints or varnish coatings, and it is very important to test or know compatibility on plastics or any other materials (beyond wood, metal, epoxy, and polyester resin). Acetone should never be used on clear windows, lenses, or clear plastics.
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