Acetic acid, also known as ethanoic acid, is a clear, colourless liquid with a potent, overpowering smell. With the chemical formula CH3COOH, it is a crucial ingredient of vinegar and is typically produced via ethanol fermentation with bacteria. The acetic acid market is being aided by the growing use of the product in applications such as food preservation and the manufacturing of numerous chemicals and materials.
The article explores some of the common uses of acetic acid:
Acetic Acid in Vinegar
Vinegar production is one of the most important applications of acetic acid. Typically, vinegar contains between 5% and 20% acetic acid, and it is produced from the acetic acid fermentation. This acid gives vinegar a sour flavour and strong odour. Vinegar is often used as a preservation, condiment, and a cooking ingredient in the food and beverage sector.
Acetic Acid in Chemical Sector
Acetic acid is a vital ingredient in the development of numerous chemicals and materials. It is used in vinyl acetate monomer, which is employed to manufacture various types of plastics and polymers. Acetic acid supports the production of adhesives, dyes, and solvents. Moreover, vinyl acetates, produced from a reaction between ethylene, acetic acid, and oxygen, are witnessing a significant demand owing to the rising construction activities. An increase in the demand for paints and coatings is further propelling the vinyl acetate market growth.
Acetic Acid as a Food Preservative
In the food sector, acetic acid is a common natural preservative. It inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other germs that can contaminate food. Processed meats, pickles, sauce, and cheese, extensively use of acetic acid as a preservative.
Acetic Acid in Textile Manufacturing
Cellulose acetate, created by combining cellulose with acetic acid and acetic anhydride, is a substance utilised in a variety of products such as photographic film, textiles, and plastics. The product is also used for the production of rayon, latex, and various artificial materials, as well as in fabric dyeing applications.
Medicinal Properties of Acetic Acid
Acetic acid has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, and it is often used to treat minor skin infections and wounds. It is also used in some ear drops to treat ear infections.
Acetic acid, when diluted to 1%, boasts excellent antibacterial properties, which makes it ideal for use as an antiseptic to eliminate bacteria and prevent infections. To assess acetic acid’s antibacterial properties, researchers investigated burn wounds and examined its role in actively inhibiting pathogen growth, preventing the formation of biofilms, and breaking down existing biofilms even at low concentrations.
Although acetic acid is generally considered safe when diluted with other liquids like water, it can be dangerous in concentrated form. Inhaling or consuming the product can burn the eyes, skin, stomach, lungs, and throat.
Breathing in strong acetic acid vapours can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and result in coughing, chest tightness, headaches, fever, and confusion. In extreme circumstances, it can even cause damage to the airways, a spike in heart rate, and even eye damage.
Safety Tips to Follow While Handling Acetic Acid
Acetic acid needs to be kept in a clean, well-ventilated environment in a sealed container. It should also be kept away from heat due to its flammable nature. Protective gear such as gloves, splash goggles, and synthetic aprons are recommended to be worn when handling acetic acid.
In conclusion, acetic acid is a versatile compound with a wide range of uses in various sectors. However, it is important to handle it with care and follow safety guidelines to avoid potential health hazards.