Acetic Acid

Physical Properties of Acetic Acid

Molecular Formula- CH3COOH( C2H4O2)
Molecular Weight- 60.05 g/mol
Boiling Point- 117.9 °C
Melting Point- 16.635 °C
Solubility- Miscible with Water
Relative vapour density (air = 1)- 2.1
Vapour Pressure- 15.7 mmHg at 25 °C
Stability- Stable under normal laboratory storage conditions
Viscosity- 1.056 mPa.s at 25 °C
Refractive Index- 1.3720 @ °C/D
Surface Tension- 27.10 mN/m at 25 °C
pH- 1.0 molar = 2.4; 0.1 molar = 2.9; 0.01 molar = 3.4


Acetic AcidOverview

  • Acetic acid, also known as ethanoic acid, is a byproduct of fermentation.
  • Acetic acid is characterized by its colourless liquid nature and possesses a pungent odour, along with a distinctive burning taste.
  • Acetic acid constitutes approximately 4-6% of the solution in vinegar.
  • More concentrated forms are used in laboratory settings.
  • Pure acetic acid without water is called glacial acetic acid.
  • Dilute solutions like vinegar are generally safe for skin contact.
  • Concentrated solutions can cause skin burns.
  • Glacial acetic acid can induce skin burns, cause permanent eye damage, and corrode metal.

Natural Sources of Acetic Acid

  • Acetates, which are salts of acetic acid, are frequently found in animal and plant tissues and are generated during the metabolism of food.
  • Most tissues readily metabolize acetate, leading to the production of ketones as intermediates.
  • The body utilizes acetate as a fundamental building block for synthesising phospholipids, neutral lipids, steroids, sterols, and saturated, and unsaturated fatty acids.
  • This utilization occurs across a range of human and animal tissue preparations.

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Effects of Acetic Acid exposure

  • Low concentrations of acetic acid found in foods like vinegar are generally harmless.
  • Higher concentrations, common in laboratory or industrial settings, can be a strong irritant to eyes, skin, and mucous membranes.
  • Prolonged skin contact with concentrated acetic acid may lead to tissue destruction.
  • Inhalation of high concentrations of acetic acid vapours can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.
  • Individuals with high occupational exposure may develop conjunctivitis, bronchitis, pharyngitis, and erosion of exposed teeth (incisors and canines).

Uses of Acetic Acid

  • Acetic acid is key in producing acetic anhydride, cellulose acetate, vinyl acetate monomer, and other chemical compounds.
  • It is utilized in the manufacturing of plastics, dyes, insecticides, photographic chemicals, and rubber.
  • Additionally, acetic acid is involved in the production of vitamins, antibiotics, hormones, and various organic chemicals.
  • It serves as a food additive, specifically as an acidulant.
  • Acetic acid finds application in diverse textile printing processes.

Food Preparation:
– Vinegar serves as a common food ingredient, utilized in pickling liquids, vinaigrettes, marinades, and salad dressings.
– It aids in controlling Salmonella contamination in meat and poultry products during food preparation.

– Vinegar finds versatile use throughout the home, acting as a window cleaner, descaling agent for coffee makers, and dish cleaner.
– It serves as a rinsing agent for dishwashers and effectively cleans bathroom tile, grout, and food-related tools.
– Vinegar’s residue is generally non-harmful, requiring less rinsing during cleaning.

– In concentrations of 10 to 20%, can function as a weed killer in gardens and lawns.
– As a herbicide, it eliminates emerged weeds without affecting their roots, allowing for potential regrowth.



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15 thought on “Acetic Acid: Sources, Effects and Uses”
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