Ethyl Acetate

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Ethyl Acetate

OVERVIEW

Ethyl acetate (ETH-uhl ASS-uh-tate) is a clear, colorless, volatile, flammable liquid with a pleasant fruity odor. Its appealing odor and fruity taste (in dilute solutions) explains one of its primary uses: as an additive in foods and drugs to improve their flavor.

HOW IT IS MADE

Ethyl acetate occurs naturally in fruits, where it is responsible for the pleasant odor and taste of the fruit. It is also found in yeasts and sugar cane. The compound is made synthetically by reacting acetic acid (CH3COOH) with ethanol (ethyl alcohol; CH3CH2OH) in the presence of a sulfuric acid catalyst.

KEY FACTS

OTHER NAMES:

Acetic acid; ethyl ester; acetic ether

FORMULA:

CH3COOC2H5

ELEMENTS:

Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen

COMPOUND TYPE:

Ester (organic)

STATE:

Liquid

MOLECULAR WEIGHT:

88.11 g/mol

MELTING POINT:

−83.8°C (−118°F)

BOILING POINT:

77.11°C (170.8°F)

SOLUBILITY:

Slightly soluble in water; miscible with alcohol, ether, and benzene

COMMON USES AND POTENTIAL HAZARDS

Ethyl acetate's primary use is as a solvent in a variety of commercial and industrial applications. About 65 percent of all ethyl acetate produced is used as a solvent in lacquers, varnishes, shellacs, inks, coatings for airplanes, and other types of coatings. Another 12 percent of the ethyl acetate produced is used as a solvent for various types of plastics. The remaining amount of ethyl acetate is used in

Interesting Facts

  • Ethyl acetate is a byproduct of the fermentation of grapes in the wine-making process. The compound is also produced as wine ages in barrels and bottles. A moderate amount of ethyl acetate contributes to the pleasant fruity taste and odor of some wines. But in excess, it can give wine a slightly "off" taste and odor.

the preparation of other organic compounds; as a flavor-enhancing additive for foods and pharmaceuticals; in the manufacture of smokeless power, leather products, and photographic films and plates; and for the cleaning of textiles.

The primary safety concern with regard to ethyl acetate is its flammability. Both the liquid and its vapors ignite at temperatures above 200°C (392°F). Exposure to ethyl acetate vapors can also irritate the eyes, nose, and respiratory system. There is no evidence that normal amounts of ethyl acetate are carcinogenic or toxic to humans.

Words to Know

CATALYST
A material that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without undergoing any change in its own chemical structure.
ESTER
An organic compound formed in the reaction between an organic acid and an alcohol.
MISCIBLE
able to be mixed; especially applies to the mixing of one liquid with another.
SYNTHESIS
A chemical reaction in which some desired chemical product is made from simple beginning chemicals, or reactants.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

"Ethyl Acetate." J. T. Baker. http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/e2850.htm (accessed on October 7, 2005).

"Ethyl Acetate." National Institute of Standards and Technology.http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/cbook.cgi?Name=ethyl+acetate&Units=SI (accessed on October 7, 2005).

"Ethyl Acetate." Spectrum Laboratories. http://www.speclab.com/compound/c141786.htm (accessed on October 7, 2005).

See AlsoAcetic Acid; Ethyl Alcohol