Uses of Acetic Acid

Acetic acid which is also known as methanecarboxylic 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.

Moving on, when acetic acid or ethanoic acid is undiluted it is termed as glacial acetic acid. It is a weak acid but when it is in concentrated form, this acid is corrosive and can cause some damage to the skin.

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 of the 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 uses here is that it can be used as an antiseptic against pseudomonas, enterococci, streptococci, staphylococci and others. It is also used in cervical cancer screening and for the treatment of infections. Further it is used as an agent to lyse red blood cells before white blood cells are examined. Vinegar has also been said to reduce high concentrations of blood sugar.

Food Industry

In the food industry, acetic acid finds its use most commonly in commercial pickling operations, and in condiments like mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. It is also used for seasoning various food items like salads etc. 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 more puffy.

Household Uses

Acetic acid which is a dilute solution is used extensively as vinegar. And as we are familiar, 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 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.


Practise This Question

Which among the following methods is most suitable for the separation of dyes in black ink?