Can Sniffing Nail Polish Remover Kill You?

“Can sniffing nail polish remover kill you?” is a common question among nail lovers and those working in the manicure industry.

Some also call the removers acetone liquid. Varnish remover is a decent chemical to support nail work and nail care.

Most of us apply the liquid directly to our fingernails. However, not everyone is aware of the precautions to take when utilizing these removers.

This post will go over the nature of this product and find the answer to that lingering question. 

Can Sniffing Nail Polish Remover Kill You?


No. It is unlikely to kill you but would be harmful if inhaled too much. Polish remover is relatively safe for the human body when inhaled at low amounts (500 ppm). 

The nail polish fume, however, might be hazardous when the ingredients are a mixture of acetone, hydrogen peroxide, and chloroform.

Acetone remover is unlikely to kill you but would be harmful if inhaled too much
Acetone remover is unlikely to kill you but would be harmful if inhaled too much

When the nail polish fume enters the body, it travels through the blood supply to other organs. The liver will transform the chemicals into safe substances if you sniff only a tiny amount. It may become energy to the body.

For your information, acetone, apart from being the main ingredient in nail polishes, is also formed in our body when we burn fat. So, when you inhale it, the liver will consider it as an outcome of the fat breakdown process.

When you ingest a large amount of polish remover, even for a short time, it has a detrimental impact on health. 

The victim may experience nausea, faint, mouth’s skin damage (or impair skin in general if contact), and, in the most severe cases, haematemesis (vomiting blood).

The toxic chemicals in varnish remover can also irritate the nasal mucosa. Inhaling acetone too much and too often can cause damage to the lungs. Some warning signs are slurred speech and loss of consciousness. 

Moreover, acetone poisoning can occur if breathed in excessive doses. The victim may experience irregular heart rhythm while the blood pressure drops significantly.


Non-acetone removers are considered healthier for the nails. Not all acetone-free products, however, are without risk of adverse effects. The liquid might include methanol or ethyl acetate.

Despite being labeled “natural”, ethyl acetate itself is not a pure substance but synthesized from several agents. This regulation pushes it to the hazardous side. 

If exposed to this chemical, your eyes and skin might suffer from irritation. When inhaled or ingested, ethyl acetate pose a danger to your internal organ, much less long exposure.

At a certain level, it can be equally as dangerous as acetone. 30 to 240 ml of methanol can cause permanent damage to the body, such as incurable blindness and neurological impairment. 

Not to mention, this substance is volatile, there is a high chance methanol will find its way to your body through breathing.

Therefore, nail art lovers should carefully read the contents on the label to screen for dangerous compounds. Doing this can help you pick the safest option.

What Is Nail Polish Remover Made Of?

These handy items come in two basic types, acetone and non-acetone. Both are in the form of a solvent.

We use enamel-removing liquids to soften varnishes, treatments, and hardeners. Then the liquid helps remove them to restore your natural nail plate.

Can Sniffing Nail Polish Remover Kill You

Resins, plasticizers, molecular plaques, coloring pigments, pearls, film formers, solvents, and additional ingredients are what compose nail polish.

Though acetone and non-acetone removers function similarly, they have different safety levels.

Acetone Type

Acetone-based varnish remover is the cheapest and the most popular product in the industry. It may contain acetone, nitrous oxide, ethyl acetate, toluene, propylene carbonate, alcohol, and a fatty agent like caster oil or lanolin. These ingredients account for 60 percent of the paint remover’s composition.

Non-Acetone/Acetone-Free Type

Non-acetone nail varnish remover is an organic or natural solvent, meaning that it boasts a less harsh ingredient profile that does no harm to users, namely propylene carbonate, isopropyl alcohol, and ethyl acetate. 

Needless to say, ethyl acetate stands in for acetone in these non-acetone removers for a more friendly nature. Sometimes, you will encounter methanol instead of ethyl acetate.

The liquid also contains moisturizing agents like glycerin, panthenol, and soybean oil. Some products even add aloe vera, gelatin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and other moisturizing oils.

Can Sniffing Nail Polish Remover Kill You

How To Safely Use Nail Polish Remover

To remove the coating safely, you should pay attention to the quality and dosage of the remover. Choose plant-based removers for your nail or use acetone liquid at a moderate amount only.

When it comes to removing nail paint, a well-ventilated place is ideal. Also, wearing a mask can help you avoid inhaling hazardous chemical fumes.

If you go to a beauty salon, tell the manicurist about all the allergen chemicals that you are allergic to (if any).

After removing the polish, wash your hands thoroughly to ensure no chemicals remain on your skin. Finally, apply a moisturizer to the skin to nourish and revitalize it.

If you mistakenly come into contact with or drink the polish remover, follow these instructions:

  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water for 15 minutes if the chemical comes into contact with the eyes. Remember to open your eyes while rinsing. Then seek help from the nearest emergency room.
  • If someone accidentally drinks the remover, contact 911 right away. You can do some first-aids by flushing their mouth with clean water to ease the discomfort. Make sure the victim feels comfortable by unbuttoning the shirt (trousers), and so on.
  • DO NOT induce vomiting. If the victim throws up the remover, chemical reflux might re-burn the trachea and esophagus. Doing this might be life-threatening.


Can I regularly use acetone-based remover?

Yes, you can use it everyday. At beauty salons, the maximum allowed concentration of acetone in the air is 1,000ppm/8 working hours/40 hours/1 week. If you use polish remover below this level, you are still in the safe zone.

That is to say that, using nail polish remover on a daily basis is not that dangerous, as the time you contact acetone is trivial compared to nail salon staff.

Should I store my nail polish remover in the fridge?

No, it is not necessary. The cold ambience in the fridge will thicken the ingredients, asking for more time to thaw at room temperature yet not prolonging its shelf life at all. 

A few ingredients in polish remover, such as acetone, are flammable. Even so, this chemical only ignited on its own at about 869 °F.

You only need to store the product in a cool and dry place. And make sure you wipe out all the excessive liquid on the bottle’s neck and close the lid tightly after use.

In case your liquid is too thick, adding some drops of nail lacquer thinner could do the trick.


Nail polish remover is one of the most common household products. Though the chemicals in the legal products are all at acceptable levels, it is advisable to apply them with proper dose and usage.

Even though the answer to the question “can sniffing nail polish remover kill you” is no, you should still take precautions for your health.


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