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Important Uses of Benzoic Acid

February 29, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 208

Benzoic acid is also known as carboxybenzene, benzene carboxylic acid and phenlyformic acid. The compound was discovered in 16th century. The acid was produced by dry distillation of gum benzoin in 1556 by Nostradamus. The organic compound exists in the form of a white crystalline solid. The acid is the simplest aromatic carboxylic acid. It contains carboxyl group attached directly to the benzene ring. This carboxylic acid is chemically weaker than other acids.

Benzoic acid is denoted as C6H5COOH or C7H6O2. The compound exists in the form of crystalline flakes. The acid has a melting point of 122 degree Celsius. Further, it has a boiling point of 249 degree Celsius. The compound has a specific gravity of 1.321. It is readily soluble in ethanol and slightly soluble in water. It shows a solubility of 0.29 g/100 ml in water.

Benzene carboxylic acid occurs naturally in several plants and resins. Benzoin trees found in Southeast Asia are a rich source of Benzoic acid. The carboxylic acid is also present in most of the berries, such as cranberries, bilberries and macrocarpon berries. The compound is also found in apples infected with fungus Nectria galligena.

Carboxybenzene is also found in several animals, especially phytophageous and omnivorous species. The compound is present in the muscles and viscera of the Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta). This chemical is also found in gland secretions of Asian bull elephants and male muskoxen. Also, the aromatic compound is present in urine of several mammals, such as humans, horses and other herbivores.

Benzoic acid is commercially produced by reacting toluene with oxygen at a temperature of 200 degree Celsius. Manganese and cobalt salts are used as catalysts in the reaction. The process is considered environmental friendly. Further, it produces high yield of Carboxybenzene. The compound is also produced by oxidation of Benzene with carbon dioxide or concentrated sulfuric acid in the presence of catalysts. Other methods include oxidation of benzaldehyde, cinnamic acid and benzyl alcohol. The compound is also produced by hydrolysis of benzoyl chloride, benzamide and benzonitrile.

Every year nearly 126,000 tonnes of Benzoic acid is produced in United States. The compound has wide range of applications. The chemical is used in Calorimetry. It is used for determining the heat capacity of a constant-volume calorimeter, bomb calorimeter. The salts of the acid are used as food preservatives. They are represented by E-numbers E213, E212, E211 and E210. Benzoic acid preserves food, such as juices, soda, salad dressings and pickles, by inhibiting the growth of mold, yeast and bacterias. The chemical is a major ingredient of Whitfield's ointment. The ointment is used to treat fungal skin diseases, such as ringworm, tinea and athlete's foot. The compound is sometimes used as antiseptic, analgesic and expectorant.

Emma Heuton is a writer who writes on several topics. Mostly she writes on SME, Business, products and manufacturing units. To provide useful insights, she prefers to study comprehensively. You can also find information on Benzoic acid in this article but if looking for more information on it, you may visit

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