Uses of Carboxylic Acid


Carboxylic acids are prepared when the chloride of acid is hydrolyzed with a water base. This chloride is acid when reacted with the base they produce carboxylic acid, which can be acidified again through laboratory processes. On hydroxylation of acid anhydrides, R-COOH is formed artificially. Carboxylic acids are generally made up of 2 electronegative oxygen atoms that make the molecules of the acid polar.

What is a Carboxylic Acid?

The organic compound that has a carboxyl functional group is referred to as carboxylic acid. These compounds can be freely found in the environment and can be synthesised artificially by humans. Carboxylic acids get gradually deprotonate in order to form an anion of carboxylate. The anion of carboxylate has a general formula that can be written as R-COOH. Hexanedioic acid, one of the components of R-COOH can also be utilized in order to manufacture nylon-6,6. Carboxylic acids are often utilized widely in the production of several useful salts, which are included in soaps.

Figure 1: Structure of Carboxylic Acid

Carboxylic acids can be prepared through several artificial methods as mentioned below.

Primary Alcohols utilization for Preparing Carboxylic Acid

The aid of several oxidising agents including potassium permanganate ($\mathrm{KMnO_4}$ for neutral, acidic, or alkaline media) and primary alcohols usually undergoes oxidation reaction in order to produce carboxylic acids. This acid can also be formed through the oxidation reaction of some other agents including chromium trioxide ($\mathrm{CrO_3,\:H_2SO_4}$ and Jones reagent), and potassium dichromate ($\mathrm{K_2Cr_2O_7}$– acidic media).

Figure 2: Oxidation of primary alcohol to carboxylic acid

Preparation from Nitriles

The formation of amides occurs when nitriles get hydrolyzed in laboratory methods. Amides then are incorporated into a reaction in the presence of the catalysts that helps in the preparation of carboxylic acids. In this reaction, this H+ or OH- generally acts as the catalyst. The amide stage reaction is terminated when mild reaction situations are used.

Prepared from Acid Chlorides

R-COOH is formed when the acid chlorides gets hydrolyzed with water. This hydrolyzation of acid chlorides with a water base compound generally creates ions of carboxylate that can be acidified in order to form the required R-COOH. On the either side, the hydrolyzation of Anhydrides with water base gives out Carboxylic acids.

Properties of Carboxylic Acid

Some physical and chemical properties of R-COOH are stated below.

  • The boiling point of R-COOH increases with the increased size of the molecules. R-COOH has a higher rate o boiling point if compared to alcohols and alkenes.

  • R-COOH are generally determined as a weak acid and can form hydrogen bonds, van der Waals dispersion forces, and dipole-dipole interactions with the molecules involved within it.

  • R-COOH have an average solubility rate in water as they are polar compounds and due to their hydroxyl in the carboxyl group, they form hydrogen bonds in H2O.

  • R-COOH is volatile in nature have a strong smell as found in vinegar. Vinegar generally contains ethanoic acid, butanoic acid, and rancid butter.

  • Apart from this R-COOH, esters have a pleasant and sweet smell that is used in the preparation of perfumes. The acids usually react with alcohol compounds to form esters.

Uses of Carboxylic Acid

Some major uses of Carboxylic acids (R-COOH) are mentioned below.

  • Carboxylic acids (R-COOH) contain several fatty acids that are highly beneficial for human health including Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The fatty acids help in cell membrane development and growth, control the use of other nutrients and maintain metabolism within the body.

  • R-COOH generally has fatty acids in them that are widely utilised in the production of soaps and detergents. Soaps are the potassium or sodium salts of Stearic acid and include a higher rate of fatty acids in them.

Figure 3: Carboxylic acid synthesis fom hydrazide catalyzed by copper (II) hydroxide

  • R-COOH is used in the food industries for the preparation of soft drinks, vinegar, and so on. These organic acids also have sodium salt that is used as food preservatives.

  • In pharmaceuticals industries carboxylic acids are often used in the production of medicines including aspirin and phenacetin.

  • The component of carboxylic acids like those that Acetic acids are widely utilized as coagulants in order t manufacture rubber, car tires, and many more.

  • The organic acids can also be applied in the preparation of dyestuff, perfumes and rayon.


Carboxylic acids contain a high amount of fatty acids including Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that sometimes do not get well absorbed by the body. R-COOH helps the digestion process to slow down and absorption of nutrients and energy from food products. R-COOH can also be utilized as amino acids and acetic acids in food and pharmaceutical industries across the globe. The esters of R-COOH are generally referred to as carboxylates and when it is protonated its conjugated base produces carboxylate ion.


Q1. What is the significance of carboxylic acids?

Ans. The component of Carboxylic acids like acetic acid is utilized as the coagulation that is incorporated in the production of rubber. This Carboxylic acid reacts with alcohol and forms ester that has a sweet smell used in the production of perfumes and scented cosmetic oils.

Q2. What are the chemical properties of carboxylic acids?

Ans. The carboxylic acid can be reduced to alcohol when it is treated with hydrogen and passes through a hydrogenation reaction. The α-carbon of R-COOH can be halogenated through the Hell-Volhard-Zelinsky reaction. The compounds of R-COOH get converted into amines through the Schmidt reaction.

Q3. What are the major applications of carboxylic acids?

Ans. Carboxylic acids are utilized in the preparation of car tires, rubber materials, cosmetic oils, perfumes, and textiles. Hexanedioic acid, one of the components of R-COOH can also be utilized in order to manufacture nylon-6,6. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid can be used as a chelating agent in several laboratories.

Updated on: 17-Apr-2023


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