Applications

Vinegar

In the form of vinegar, acetic acid solutions (typically 5% to 18% acetic acid, with the percentage usually calculated by mass) are used directly as a condiment, and also in the pickling of vegetables and other foodstuffs. Table vinegar tends to be more diluted (5% to 8% acetic acid), while commercial food pickling generally employs …

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Vinyl acetate monomer

The major use of acetic acid is for the production of vinyl acetate monomer (VAM). This application consumes approximately 40% to 45% of the world’s production of acetic acid. The reaction is of ethylene and acetic acid with oxygen over a palladium catalyst. 2 H3C-COOH + 2 C2H4 + O2 → 2 H3C-CO-O-CH=CH2 + 2 …

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Ester production

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 …

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Acetic Anhydrate

The condensation product of two molecules of acetic acid is acetic anhydride. The worldwide production of acetic anhydride is a major application, and uses approximately 25% to 30% of the global production of acetic acid. Acetic anhydride may be produced directly by methanol carbonylation bypassing the acid, and Cativa production plants can be adapted for …

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Use as Solvent

Glacial acetic acid is an excellent polar protic solvent, as noted above. It is frequently used as a solvent for recrystallization to purify organic compounds. Pure acetic acid is used as a solvent in the production of terephthalic acid (TPA), the raw material for polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Although currently accounting for 5–10% of acetic acid …

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Other Applications

Dilute solutions of acetic acids are also used for their mild acidity. Examples in the household environment include the use in a stop bath during the development of photographic films, and in descaling agents to remove limescale from taps and kettles.