Acetic acid (also known as methanecarboxylic acid and ethanoic acid) is a colourless liquid, which has a strong and pungent smell. Since it has a carbon atom in its chemical formula, it is an organic compound. Acetic acid is a main component of vinegar and gives vinegar its characteristic smell. When acetic acid is undiluted it is called glacial acetic acid. Although it is a weak acid, its concentrated form is corrosive and can damage the skin. Here are some important acetic acid/ethanoic acid uses and applications:
1. Production of chemical compounds
Acetic acid is used as a chemical reagent for the production of a number of chemical compounds. It is mainly used in the production of vinyl acetate monomer, acetic anhydride and ester production.
2. Purification of organic compounds
To purify organic compounds, acetic acid is used as a solvent for recrystallization.
3. Medical Use
Acetic acid can be used as an antiseptic against pseudomonas, staphylococci, enterococci, streptococci and others. It is also used in cervical cancer screening. World Health Organization has listed acetic acid in its list of essential medicines. It is also used for the treatment of outer ear infections like the growth of fungus and bacteria.
4. Food additive
Acetic acid is used in vinegar, which is used as a condiment & in the pickling of raw vegetables and other foods.
5. Manufacture of inks and dyes
Acetic acid is used for the manufacture of inks and dyes.
6. Perfume industry
Acetic acid is also used in making perfumes.