Trichloroacetic acid - C2HCl3O2

What is Trichloroacetic acid?

Trichloroacetic acid is an is an analogue of acetic acid where the three hydrogen (H) atoms of the methyl (-CH3) group are replaced by chlorine (Cl) atoms. It is also called Trichloroethanoic acid or Aceto-caustin. Esters and salts of trichloroacetic acid are termed as trichloroacetates. The chemical formula of Trichloroacetic acid is C2HCl3O2.

It was discovered by Jean-Baptiste Dumas in the year 1839. Aceto-caustin in its solid form, is a crystalline solid without colour. It forms a syrup by absorbing the moisture from the air. It dissolves in water by liberating heat. It is corrosive. It is a powerful acid which is widely used in clinical chemistry as a protein precipitant. Also, it has a wide application in removing warts.

Properties of Trichloroacetic acid- C2HCl3O2

Trichloroacetic acid


Molecular Weight of Trichloroacetic acid

163.38 g/mol

Density of of Trichloroacetic acid

1.63 g/cm3

Melting Point of Trichloroacetic acid

57 to 58 °C

Boiling point of Trichloroacetic acid

196 to 197 °C

Structure of Trichloroacetic acid (C2HCl3O2)

Structure of Trichloroacetic acid

Uses of Trichloroacetic acid (C2HCl3O2)

  • Trichloroacetic acid is used in biochemistry to precipitate macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins.
  • It is used in microscopy as a fixative and decalcifier.
  • Used as a reagent in organic synthesis to detect albumin, medicine, and herbicides.
  • Used in the chemoablation of warts.
  • DCA and TCA are used in cosmetic treatments.

Preparation of Trichloroacetic acid

It is synthesized by reacting chlorine (Cl) with acetic acid (CH3COOH ) in the presence of a catalyst.

CH3COOH + 3Cl2 → CCl3COOH +3HCl

It can also be produced by oxidation of trichloroacetaldehyde.

Effects on Health

Trichloroethanoic acid acts as a metabolite, a mouse metabolite, and a carcinogenic agent. It is an organochlorine compound as well as a monocarboxylic acid. It is derived from acetic acid (CH3COOH).

Learn more about the physical and chemical properties of Trichloroacetic acid (C2HCl3O2) from the experts at BYJU’S.

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