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What does the percentage of acetic acid in vinegar mean?

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Quick Answer

The percentage of acetic acid in vinegar refers to the unit of measurement that focuses on the strength of the vinegar. This percentage has value because it has a correlation with the safety and efficiency of its food preservation and household use.

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Not surprisingly, the higher percentage of acetic acid in the vinegar, the stronger the vinegar. Vinegar typically consists of a combination of acetic acid and water. More water dilutes the power of the acetic acid. People are able to consume vinegar with a low percentage of acetic acid, up to roughly five percent. Vinegar with a higher percentage of acid, around 20 percent, often has commercial uses, such as in herbicides. Vinegars with higher acetic acid levels sometimes cause damage, including skin, eye, nose and throat irritation, without proper safety measures such as goggles and gloves.

The percentage of acetic acid in vinegar has other effects, including an impact on the vinegar's shelf life. Vinegar with a low percentage of acid tends to be shelf-stable over time. Factors such as type of vinegar, container, packing method, storage and transportation have an affect on how stable the vinegar remains. However, even if the vinegar changes in color and clarity, it typically does not change in taste.

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  • Q:

    What is the pH of acetic acid?

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    The pH value for acetic acid depends on its molar concentration in an aqueous solution. Acetic acid with a molar concentration of 0.9 or approximately 1.0 M has a pH value of about 2.4, which is also the pH of vinegar that contains about 5 percent acetic acid. Acetic acid with a molar concentration of 0.1 M has a pH of 2.87, and 0.0001 M of acetic acid has a pH of 4.3.

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  • Q:

    What is the structural formula for acetic acid?

    A:

    Chemical Dictionary lists the structural formula for acetic acid as CH3COOH. Its chemical formula is C2H4O2. It is composed of two carbon, four hydrogen and two oxygen atoms.

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  • Q:

    Where can you find significant quantities of acetic acid?

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    Significant quantities of acetic acid are found in paints, adhesives and solvents. Common household vinegar is diluted acetic acid. Medical uses of diluted acetic acid formulas include bladder irrigation, wound irrigation and the treatment of ear infections. Pure acetic acid, known as glacial acetic acid, is widely available. It is used as a solvent, chemical reagent, fungicide and herbicide.

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  • Q:

    What is the molarity of glacial acetic acid?

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    The molarity of glacial acetic acid is 17.5M, according to Salt Lake Metals. Since the molarity of any element is determined by the number of moles in 1 dm3, its molarity is calculated by determining its density and molecular weight.

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