Q:

What is acetic acid used for?

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Quick Answer

Acetic acid is an organic solvent that is used for a variety of industrial, analytical and medical purposes. It has the structural formula "CH3COOH" and exists as a colorless liquid at room temperature. Acetic acid is a component of vinegar and is what gives vinegar its characteristic smell.

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Acetic acid is used in industrial fields as a precursor for making various metal acetates, cellulose acetate and vinyl acetate. Metal acetates are used in printing, and cellulose acetate is used to make film for photography. Vinyl acetate is a component in most plastics. Acetic acid is also used to make many different esters used in analytical chemistry. These esters are used as solvents in many commercial products, such as inks and paints.

Medically, acetic acid is used as an otic solution in the treatment of external ear infections and in physical therapy to treat soft tissue damage in athletes. Acetic acid is also used in several countries as a food additive to regulate the acidity of certain foods and condiments. While not a strong acid, acetic acid is corrosive and can damage the skin and eyes if contact with the undiluted compound occurs. It is also flammable and should be kept away from open flames.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the pH of acetic acid?

    A:

    The pH value for acetic acid depends on its molar concentration in an aqueous solution. Acetic acid with a molar concentration of 0.9 or approximately 1.0 M has a pH value of about 2.4, which is also the pH of vinegar that contains about 5 percent acetic acid. Acetic acid with a molar concentration of 0.1 M has a pH of 2.87, and 0.0001 M of acetic acid has a pH of 4.3.

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  • Q:

    What is the structural formula for acetic acid?

    A:

    Chemical Dictionary lists the structural formula for acetic acid as CH3COOH. Its chemical formula is C2H4O2. It is composed of two carbon, four hydrogen and two oxygen atoms.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference in conductivity of concentrated and diluted acetic acid?

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    The conductivity of an acetic acid solution generally increases as concentration is increased. The more acetic acid is dissolved in water, the higher the chance of there being acetic acid molecules that dissociate into positive and negative hydronium and acetyl groups that conduct electricity.

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  • Q:

    Where can you find significant quantities of acetic acid?

    A:

    Significant quantities of acetic acid are found in paints, adhesives and solvents. Common household vinegar is diluted acetic acid. Medical uses of diluted acetic acid formulas include bladder irrigation, wound irrigation and the treatment of ear infections. Pure acetic acid, known as glacial acetic acid, is widely available. It is used as a solvent, chemical reagent, fungicide and herbicide.

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