The major esters of acetic acid are commonly used solvents for inks, paints and coatings. The esters include ethyl acetate, n-butyl acetate, isobutyl acetate, and propyl acetate. They are typically produced by catalysed reaction from acetic acid and the corresponding alcohol:
H3C-COOH + HO-R → H3C-CO-O-R + H2O, (R = a general alkyl group)
Most acetate esters, however, are produced from acetaldehyde using the Tishchenko reaction. Additionally, ether acetates are used as solvents for nitrocellulose, acrylic lacquers, varnish removers and wood stains. First glycol monoethers are produced from ethylene oxide or propylene oxide with alcohol, which are then esterified with acetic acid. The three major products are ethylene glycol monoethyl ether acetate (EEA), ethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate (EBA), and propylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate (PMA). This application consumes about 15% to 20% of worldwide acetic acid. Ether acetates, for example EEA, have been shown to be harmful to human reproduction.