formic acid

formic acid
Chem., Pharm.
a colorless, irritating, fuming, water-soluble liquid, CH2O2, originally obtained from ants and now manufactured synthetically, used in dyeing and tanning and in medicine chiefly as a counterirritant and astringent.

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Simplest carboxylic acid, chemical formula HCOOH. It is secreted by some insects, especially red ants (its name comes from the Latin word for ant), in their bite or sting.

It has many industrial uses, in textile and leather manufacture, as an industrial solvent, and as an intermediate.

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also called  methanoic acid 

      the simplest of the carboxylic acids (carboxylic acid), used in processing textiles (textile) and leather. Formic acid was first isolated from certain ants (ant) and was named after the Latin formica, meaning “ant.” It is made by the action of sulfuric acid upon sodium formate, which is produced from carbon monoxide and sodium hydroxide.

      Formic acid is also prepared in the form of its esters (ester) by treatment of carbon monoxide with an alcohol such as methanol (methyl alcohol) in the presence of a catalyst.

      Formic acid is not a typical carboxylic acid; it is distinguished by its acid strength, its failure to form an anhydride, and its reactivity as a reducing agent—a property due to the −CHO group, which imparts some of the character of an aldehyde. The methyl and ethyl esters of formic acid are commercially produced. Concentrated sulfuric acid dehydrates formic acid to carbon monoxide.

      Pure formic acid is a colourless, fuming liquid with a pungent odour; it irritates the mucous membranes and blisters the skin. It freezes at 8.4 °C (47.1 °F) and boils at 100.7 °C (213.3 °F).

William H. Brown

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Universalium. 2010.

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