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Acetic Acid in Nairobi, Kenya

What is acetic acid?

Acetic acid is also known as ethanoic acid, ethylic acid, vinegar acid, and methane carboxylic acid. Acetic acid is a byproduct of fermentation, and gives vinegar its characteristic odor. Vinegar is about 4-6% acetic acid in water. More concentrated solutions can be found in laboratory use, and pure acetic acid containing only traces of water is known as glacial acetic acid.

Acetic acid is used in the manufacture of acetic anhydride, cellulose acetate, vinyl acetate monomer, acetic esters, chloracetic acid, plastics, dyes, insecticides, photographic chemicals, and rubber. Other commercial uses include the manufacture of vitamins, antibiotics, hormones, and organic chemicals, and as a food additive. Typical concentrations of acetic acid occurring naturally in foods are 700 to 1,200 milligrams/kilogram (mg/kg) in wines, up to 860 mg/kg in aged cheeses, and 2.8 mg/kg in fresh orange juice.

Important and Popular Uses of Acetic Acid

There are many uses of acetic acid. So, in addition to being treated just as a food preservative (vinegar), the acid is used in many areas and instances. Some top and important uses include:

  • Industrial Use
  • Medicinal Uses
  • Household
  • Food Industry

Industrial Use

Acetic acid is used in many industrial processes for the production of substrates and it is often used as a chemical reagent for the production of a number of chemical compounds like acetic anhydride, ester, vinyl acetate monomer, vinegar, and many other polymeric materials. It is also used to purify organic compounds as it can be used as a solvent for recrystallization.

Medical Use

Acetic acid has a lot of uses in the medical field. The most important uses here is that it can be used as an antiseptic against pseudomonas, enterococci, streptococci, staphylococci and others. It is also used in cervical cancer screening and for the treatment of infections. Further it is used as an agent to lyse red blood cells before white blood cells are examined. Vinegar has also been said to reduce high concentrations of blood sugar.

Food Industry

In the food industry, acetic acid finds its use most commonly in commercial pickling operations, and in condiments like mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. It is also used for seasoning various food items like salads etc. Additionally, vinegar can react with alkaline ingredients like baking soda and when that happens it produces a gas which helps to make baked goods become puffier.

Household Uses

Acetic acid which is a dilute solution is used extensively as vinegar. And as we are familiar, vinegar is widely used for cleaning, laundry, cooking, and many other household uses. Farmers usually spray acetic acid on livestock silage to counter bacterial and fungal growth.

Apart from these, acetic acid is used for the manufacture of inks and dyes and it is also used in making perfumes. It is also involved in manufacturing of rubber and plastic industries.

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