Methyl acetate (C3H6O2) is a flammable liquid that smells similar to nail polish remover or glue. It is an ester, which means it is characterized by its odor. It is a colorless liquid at room temperature.
Methyl acetate is a common ingredient of paint, coatings, adhesives and sealants. It is an intermediate, which means methyl acetate helps turn raw ingredients into a finished product without becoming part of the finished product itself. It is used as a degreaser and as a solvent for containing other chemicals. As a solvent, methyl acetate is usually mixed with acetone and methyl alcohol.
Companies make methyl acetate by heating methanol and acetic acid in the presence of sulfuric acid. Once the chemical process forms methyl acetate, it must be distilled for purity. Industrial companies can make methyl acetate from methanol and carbon monoxide. Methyl acetate is a byproduct of making acetic acid.