Ingredients in Carburetor Cleaners

Man working on car engine
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Carburetor cleaners are either single-can aerosols or come in gallon-sized portions. The toxicity of a carburetor cleaner's main ingredients, by themselves, makes this cocktail a hazardous material, requiring educated and careful use. Each of the cleaner's ingredients derive from petroleum, a chemical compound, or draw from geological sources. Used in aerosol carburetor cleaners, a propellant ingredient makes the push-button, aluminum can "spray" the compressed cleaner. Without safe use, the ingredients in this lethal type of gunk remover burns both skin and clothing. Knowing what is inside the carburetor cleaner gives a better understanding as to why safety comes first.


Acetone's solvent properties make it popular in 21st century industrial use. Acetone use in carburetor cleaners is another product exemplifying how 12 percent of all acetone used becomes a cleaning solvent. Highly combustible, safe acetone use requires avoiding any ignition source. High in vapor pressure, acetone contributes to the need for using carburetor cleaners in well-ventilated areas.


Smelling strong with a sweet odor, xylene is a clear, chemical liquid. Derived from petroleum and coal tar, xylene is not only used in solvents, such as:

  • paints
  • varnishes
  • shellacs


Another colorless, pungent and saccharine-smelling component of carburetor cleaner is toluene. Much used as a solvent in aviation gasoline, this compound also becomes other chemicals. Perfumes, dyes, medicines, explosives and detergents are a few products also containing toluene.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)

Aside from its use in carburetor cleaners, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is a mainstay in the manufacturing of vinyl lacquers. The range of uses of this chemical amalgam includes adhesives and lubricating oils, as well as an intermediate or chemical reaction, making one thing become another, as in the production of antioxidants and perfumes. The degreasing and cleaning nature of MEK makes this chemical a main ingredient of carburetor cleaners.

Ethyl Benzene

A liquid hydrocarbon, ethyl benzene cleans the resins found in dirty carburetors. Used in other automotive and petroleum products, ethyl benzene is an extremely flammable, clear liquid with a pleasant aroma.


Glycol alkyl ethers are the base components of 2-butoxyethanol, another ingredient in carburetor cleaners. The compound gives off a strong ether smell. Also called cellosolve as an industrial cleaner, this chemical is also found in paint remover.


Propane is a natural gas and a by-product of petroleum purification. Easily liquefied by compression and cooling, propane fuels certain types of cigarette lighters, camping stoves and lamps. Though its main use is as a fuel when it is mixed with other hydrocarbons, such as butane, this natural product cleans carburetors when combined with other ingredients.

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