Uses of Acetic Acid

Acetic acid which is also known as methane carboxylic acid and ethanoic acid is basically a clear, colourless liquid, which has a strong and pungent smell. Since it has a carbon atom in its chemical formula, it is an organic compound and it comes with a chemical formula CH3COOH.

Interestingly, the word ‘acetic’ is derived from a Latin word called ‘acetum’ meaning ‘vinegar’. Vinegar is the dilute form of acetic acid and is the most common chemical substance among people. Acetic acid is a main component of vinegar and also gives vinegar its characteristic smell.

When acetic acid or ethanoic acid is not diluted then it is known as glacial acetic acid. Acetic acid is a weak acid but its concentrated form is corrosive and can cause some damage to the skin.

Table of Contents

Structure of Acetic Acid

Acetic Acid CH3COOH 700x265 1

Important and Popular Uses of Acetic Acid

There are many uses of acetic acid. So, in addition to being treated just as a food preservative (vinegar), the acid is used in many areas and instances. Some top and important uses include:

  • Industrial Use
  • Medicinal Uses
  • Household
  • Food Industry

We will be discussing some of it below:

Industrial Use

Acetic acid is used in many industrial processes for the production of substrates and it is often used as a chemical reagent for the production of a number of chemical compounds like acetic anhydride, ester, vinyl acetate monomer, vinegar, and many other polymeric materials. It is also used to purify organic compounds as it can be used as a solvent for recrystallization.

Medical Use

Acetic acid has a lot of uses in the medical field. The most important use here is that;
1. It can be used as an antiseptic against pseudomonas, enterococci, streptococci, staphylococci and others.
2. It is also used in cervical cancer screening and for the treatment of infections.
3. It is used as an agent to lyse(destruction of cells through lysin) red blood cells before white blood cells are examined.
4. Vinegar has also been said to reduce high concentrations of blood sugar.

Food Industry

1. In the food industry, acetic acid finds its use most commonly in commercial pickling operations, and in condiments like mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup.
2. It is also used for seasoning various food items like salads etc.
3. Additionally, vinegar can react with alkaline ingredients like baking soda and when that happens it produces a gas which helps to make baked goods become puffier.

Household Uses

Acetic acid which is a dilute solution is used extensively as vinegar. And as we are familiar with, vinegar is widely used for cleaning, laundry, cooking, and many other household uses. Farmers usually spray acetic acid on livestock silage to counter bacterial and fungal growth.

Apart from these, acetic acid is used for the manufacture of inks and dyes and it is also used in making perfumes. It is also involved in the manufacturing of rubber and plastic industries.

These are some popular uses of Acetic acid. To know more about acetic acid and other chemistry topics you can keep visiting BYJU’s or download our app for interesting content and learning experience.

Test Your Knowledge On Uses Of Acetic Acid!


Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.



  1. how acetic acid is prepared