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Acetic acid, also known as ethanoic acid and methanecarboxylic acid, is a colorless liquid that has a strong and distinct pungent and sour smell. Its chemical formula is C2H4O2: it has two carbon (C) atoms, four hydrogen (H) atoms and two oxygen (O) atoms. Because it has a carbon in its chemical formula, it is an organic compound. Its chemical formula can be written multiple ways, as shown here:

C2H4O2
CH3COOH
CH3CO2H

Properties of Acetic acid

Chemical formula CH3COOH
Molecular Weight/ Molar Mass 60.05 g/mol
Density 1.05 g/cm3
Boiling Point 118oC
Melting Point 16oC

What are the properties of acetic acid?

  1. Acidic character
  2. When dissolved in water, acetic acid undergoes dissociation to form hydrogen (H+) ion. Because of the release of a proton, acetic acid has an acidic character. It turns blue litmus paper red, indicating that it is acidic in nature. However, it is a weak acid because it does not dissociate completely in aqueous solution.
  3. Reaction with sodium bicarbonate
  4. Acetic acid reacts with sodium bicarbonate to produce carbon dioxide.

Common uses of acetic acid:

  1. Acetic acid is used as coagulant in the manufacture of rubber.
  2. It is used in the manufacture of various dye stuffs and perfumes.
  3. It is used in the manufacture of rayon fibre.
  4. It is used as a solvent.
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