Acetic acid is a chemical reagent for the production of chemical compounds. The largest single use ofacetic acid is in the production of vinyl acetate monomer, closely followed by acetic anhydride and ester production. The volume of acetic acid used in vinegar is comparatively small.
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Acetic acid is an organic compound with the formula CH3COOH. It is a carboxylic acid consisting of a methyl group that is attached to a carboxyl functional group. The systematic IUPAC name of acetic acid is ethanoic acid and its chemical formula can also be written as C2H4O2. Vinegar is a solution of acetic acid in water and contains between 5% to 20% ethanoic acid by volume. The pungent smell and the sour taste is characteristic of the acetic acid present in it.
An undiluted solution of acetic acid is commonly referred to as glacial acetic acid. It forms crystals which appear like ice at temperatures below 16.6oC. It has a wide range of applications as a polar, protic solvent. In the field of analytical chemistry, glacial acetic acid is widely used in order to estimate substances that are weakly alkaline.
The structure of acetic acid is illustrated below.
Acetic acid is a monocarboxylic acid because it contains only one "COOH"group. It has a sour taste and pungent smell. It is the main component of vinegar. Vinegar is typically 3-7% solution of acetic acid in water.
Even though ethanoic acid is considered to be a weak acid, in its concentrated form, it possesses strong corrosive powers and can even attack the human skin if exposed to it. Some general properties of acetic acid are listed below.
The metabolism of carbohydrates and fats in many animals is centred around the binding of acetic acid to coenzyme A. Generally, this compound is produced via the reaction between methanol and carbon monoxide (carbonylation of methanol).
Ethanoic acid is a very important organic compound in the day to day lives of humans. Some of the important uses of acetic acid are listed below.
In its liquid state, CH3COOH is a hydrophile (readily dissolves in water) and also a polar, protic solvent. A mixture of acetic acid and water is, in this manner, similar to a mixture of ethanol and water. Acetic acid also forms miscible mixtures with hexane, chloroform, and several oils. However, it does not form miscible mixtures with long-chain alkanes (such as octane).
The desirable solvent properties of acetic acid, along with its ability to form miscible mixtures with both polar and non-polar compounds, make it a very important industrial solvent. It is widely used in the industrial preparation of dimethyl terephthalate (DMT).
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