Acetic Acid: Molecular Formula and Molecular Weight

Topics: Acetic acid, Vinegar, Ethanol Pages: 2 (600 words) Published: February 9, 2013
Also known as: ethanoic acid, Glacial acetic acid, Ethylic acid, Vinegar acid, Acetic acid, glacial, Methanecarboxylic acid, Acetasol, Essigsaeure Molecular Formula: C2H4O2   
Molecular Weight: 60.05196

Acetic acid is a weak acid which is probably most famous for being the primary acid in vinegar. In fact, acetic acid has a wide range of uses beyond sprinkling on salads, and it is produced in large volumes all over the world. People have been working with this acid in a number of contexts for centuries, with acetic acid being one of the substances explored by alchemists, the predecessors of modern chemists. This organic acid can be prepared in varying concentrations. In pure form, it is known as glacial acetic acid because it crystallizes in cool temperatures. This form of the acid is extremely corrosive and can be hazardous to work with, requiring special precautions for protection. Vinegar, by contrast, usually has an acetic acid concentration of around five percent. There are a number of ways in which this acid can be prepared. One method is bacterial fermentation, the technique used to make vinegars, in which acetic acid is generated as a byproduct of bacterial digestion. Other techniques involve producing chemical reactions which result in this acid, as is done in commercial manufacture of this product. When the acid is destined for use in food, however, it is usually produced biologically because this is often required for food labeling reasons. This clear, colorless acid has a distinctive sour taste, although tasting it is not recommended unless it is clearly labeled as fit for human consumption. It also has a strong, sharp odor which is familiar to many people because it smells like vinegar. Or, rather, vinegar smells like acetic acid. In food preparation, it can be used as a flavoring, with the sharp taste being desirable in some foods, and also as a food preservative. The acid inhibits bacterial growth, keeping food safe from contamination. The...
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