Acetic acid is an organic chemical substance, it is a colourless liquid with a very distinctive odour. One of its most common uses is in the composition of vinegar, although it is also used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, in the food, textile and chemical industries.

As chemical distributors and suppliers of fine chemicals in Spain and the United Kingdom, we would like to discuss the composition of acetic acid in relation to other substances in order to understand its different uses, as well as other information that may be of interest to the field.

What is acetic acid?

On an industrial level, acetic acid is produced through the carbonylation of methanol and is used as a raw material for the production of different compounds. It can also be obtained through the food industry by the acetic fermentation process of ethanol, or more commonly explained, through alcoholic fermentation and with the distillation of wood.

Pure acetic acid or glacial acetic acid, also known as CH 3 COOH, is a liquid that can be harmful to our health due to its irritating and corrosive properties and can cause severe skin, eye and digestive tract irritation. However, thanks to its combination with different substances, it is possible to obtain everyday products that may be familiar to everyone, such as vinegar.

Vinegar is a hygroscopic substance, i.e. it can absorb moisture from its surroundings. Therefore, when it is mixed with water, there is a very significant reduction in its volume. On the other hand, when acetic acid 100 % is exposed to low temperatures, the surface, also known as acetic essence, crystallises and forms ice-like crystals at the top.

Due to the chemical structure of this material, it has a very high boiling point. Furthermore, it is worth noting that acetic acid, being a carboxylic acid, has the ability to dissociate, but only slightly, as it is a weak acid [FC1] . Moreover, thanks to this ability to dissociate, it conducts electricity effectively.

Uses of acetic acid

As chemical distributors, the purposes for which this type of acid is processed are varied. As mentioned above, it can be found in many grocery shops as white vinegar. In such products, acetic acid cannot be found in its pure form, but only in small quantities. It is also present in foods such as canned and pickled foods, cheese and dairy products, sauces or prepared salads.

It is also commonly used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and industrial industries both to produce other substances and to regulate their properties, especially with regards to their pH. Due to its strong odour, one of its other main uses is in cosmetics as a regulator in the aroma of fragrances, i.e. it achieves a balance between sweet smells in particular. In the textile industry, it is used to dye fabrics and produce fabrics such as viscose or latex.

In the chemical industry, acetic acid is used in the production of cleaning products and, in the pharmaceutical industry, in supplements and some medicines, as it is capable of stabilising blood pressure and reducing blood sugar levels. It is also a common ingredient in ointments.

Acetic acid in everyday life

This substance is found in many everyday products as described above, such as food, cleaning products and cosmetics, among others. Of all of them, vinegar is one of the most important ones, as it has different uses, such as for cooking or cleaning. It is an infallible product when it comes to dealing with stubborn stains such as dog urine, rust or other dirt.

At DC Fine Chemicals, we as chemical distributors and suppliers offer a wide range of fine chemical products. If you are looking for a reliable partner throughout the entire process and product development, please contact us!

In this article, we have explained what acetic acid is, as well as its composition and use within the industry. Visit our blog for more info!