Ethanoic Acid is a synonym of Acetic Acid, a widely-used organic acid with a pungent odour and one of the most important chemical reagents. Ethanoic Acid is what gives vinegar its distinctively sour taste and smell. Ethanoic Acid is used in industry, in the laboratory and in the home the world over with an estimated global usage of over 6.5 million tonnes.
Ethanoic Acid is represented by the chemical formula CH3COOH. The name Acetic Acid is derived from the Latin word 'acetum' which translates as 'vinegar'. Ethanoic Acid is used in the production of many chemical compounds, in particular Vinyl Acetate Monomer which is used in the manufacture of adhesives and paints. Ethanoic Acid is also used as a solvent and in the development of photographic films.
Ethanoic Acid is used in the food industry for preserving foodstuffs, in the preparation of condiments and for pickling. Vinegar is one of the most widely used condiments in the world, being used in restaurants, cafes, canteens and homes.
Glacial Acetic Acid is the active ingredient often found in wart and verruca removal ointments, whilst the acidity in Ethanoic Acid is also used to treat jellyfish stings and outer ear infections.
Concentrated Ethanoic Acid is classified as Corrosive and must be handled by competent persons wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including safety coveralls, approved eye protection, appropriate nitrile rubber safety gloves (because latex gloves will not protect the skin against the damaging effects of Ethanoic Acid) and safety footwear.
The hazards of Ethanoic solutions depend on the concentration of the material. Where handling solutions of more than 25% Ethanoic Acid, this should be performed under fume extraction as the vapours are Corrosive and may cause severe irritation to the delicate mucous membranes of the nose and respiratory tract.
Approved eye protection should always be worn when handling Ethanoic Acid as accidental contact with eyes can cause irritation, redness, conjunctivitis and may result in permanent eye damage.
Whilst vinegar is consumed safely all over the world, higher concentrations of Ethanoic Acid present a serious danger to animal and human life, causing severe damage to the alimentary canal, the digestive system and even causing potentially lethal changes in the acidity of blood.
Ethanoic Acid should be stored away from heat and sources of ignition. Ethanoic Acid should be segregated in an approved area, and containers should be kept cool and well ventilated. Containers must be kept tightly closed and away from children and animals.