Formic Acid - HCOOH

What is Formic Acid?

Formic acid is a colorless, fuming liquid with a pungent acrid odor with the chemical formula HCOOH. It is systematically named as methanoic acid. The common names for simple carboxylic acids come from the Latin or Greek names of their source. Formic acid, although not widely used as a solvent, is of interest as an example of a protic solvent with high acidity. Formic acid and its salts are corrosive and skin sensitisers. Sodium formate is mildly irritating to the eyes.

Other names – Methanoic acid, Formylic acid, Aminic acid

HCOOH Formic Acid
Density 1.22 g/cm³
Molecular Weight/ Molar Mass 46.03 g/mol
Boiling Point 100.8 °C
Melting Point 8.4 °C
Chemical Formula CH2O2

Formic Acid Structure – HCOOH


Formic Acid Structure

Physical Properties of Formic Acid – HCOOH

Odour Pungent, penetrating odor
Appearance Colorless liquid
Covalently-Bonded Unit 1
Hydrogen Bond Acceptor 2
Complexity 10.3
Solubility Miscible with water

Chemical Properties of Formic Acid – HCOOH

    • Formic acid reduce mercuric chloride into mercurous chloride forming a white precipitate. The chemical equation is given below.

HCOOH + 2HgCl2 → Hg2Cl2 + 2HCl + CO2

    • Formic acid reacts with phosphoric pentachloride forms formyl chloride, phosphoryl chloride and hydrogen chloride.

HCOOH + PCl5 → HCOCl + POCl3 + HCl

Uses of Formic Acid – HCOOH

  • Used as a mixture with citric acid or HCl because alone it is unable to remove iron oxide deposits.
  • Used in major industrial chemicals in the group of saturated monocarboxylic acids.
  • Used as a reducing agent to reduce sodium and potassium dichromate.
  • Useful material in the dyeing and tanning industries, but other competing acids have, as a rule, been cheaper and the use of formic acid has therefore been restricted to a few cases for which it has peculiar advantages

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