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Most important carboxylic acid (CHCOOH). Pure (glacial) acetic acid is a clear, syrupy, corrosive liquid that mixes readily with water. Vinegar is its dilute solution, from fermentation and oxidation (seeoxidation-reduction) of natural products. Its salts and esters are acetates. It occurs naturally as a metabolic intermediate in body fluids and plant juices. Industrial production is either synthetic, from acetylene, or biological, from ethanol. Industrial chemicals made from it are used in printing and as plastics, photographic films, textiles, and solvents.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on acetic acid, visit Britannica.com.