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Vinegar Formula – Structure, Properties, Uses, Sample Questions

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Probably most of us are familiar with vinegar. Vinegar is widely used in most of our homes. However, there are other characteristics of vinegar that we shall discuss in this article. The vinegar is a dilute acetic or ethanoic acid solution. The vinegar formula is written as (CH3COOH). However, since acetic acid is the major component of Vinegar, the chemical formula of Vinegar is the chemical formula of acetic acid.

Traditional methods using oak casks (Orleans Process), surface culture (Generator Process), and other methods are used to make vinegar. Vinegar is a common ingredient in a variety of foods. Additionally, vinegar is utilized for cleaning purposes. It’s utilized in a variety of medicines as an antiseptic. 

What is Vinegar?

Vinegar is a chemical compound with the chemical formula CH3COOH. It is also called ethanoic acid. It is a combination of acetic acid and water made by a two-step fermentation process. That is First yeast feed on the sugar or starch of any liquid from a plant food such as fruits potatoes, or rice. 

This liquid ferments into alcohol. It is used in our day-to-day life a 5 to 8 percent. Vinegar is produced by various methods traditional methods employing wooden casks (Orleans process), surface culture, etc.

Chemical formula of Vinegar 

Because vinegar is a mixture in the form of a solution rather than a single chemical component, there are multiple separate compounds present, each with its own formula. Apart from the water in which it is entirely dissolved, the most important ingredient is ethanoic acid (also known as acetic acid), which gives vinegar its smell and acidity.

Ethanoic acid’s chemical formula is C2H4O2, although formulae like this can be confusing. Other compounds may have the same number of atoms but are organized differently in the molecule, hence a structural formula is preferable: CH3COOH.

Structure Of Vinegar


The initial carbon atom is coupled to three hydrogen atoms in the structure shown above. A hydroxyl group and an oxygen atom are linked to the second carbon atom. Acetic acid has the functional group –COOH (Carboxyl group).

Preparation Of Vinegar

  • Orleans process: It is a slow process. The major feature of this method is that the huge barrels will be filled with wine and vinegar and Acetic Acid Bacteria ferment it gradually. After one to three months the old vinegar is removed and new wine is added. The barrel should be filled only half so that enough air is present for the bacteria. Bacteria will acidify and vinegar is formed again. It is a time-consuming process and needs a lot of patience.
  • Quick Process: To avoid time-consuming processes like the Orleans process this method is used. In this method, there will be a fermenting chamber with the necessary bacteria and other compounds. To this alcoholic substrate will be sprayed. These together react to form vinegar. There will be heat produced during the process but air will be passed inside the chamber to make it cool. These steps are repeated several times to get the desired quantity of vinegar.
  • Biological Production Of Vinegar: Vinegar is generally made by the fermentation of ethyl alcohol or sugars to acetic acid by a genus of bacteria called acetic acid bacteria. This method has two steps in the initial step the fermentable sugars are transformed into ethanol by the action of yeast .in the second step the acetic acid bacteria oxidize the ethanol into acetic acid in an anaerobic process. vinegar usually contains four to six percent of acetic acid and 94 to 97 percent of water.

Properties of Vinegar

  • Vinegar molar mass is 60.052 g/mol.
  • Its density is 1.05 g/ml.
  • Its melting point is 16 οC.
  • And its boiling point is 118 οC.
  • The chemical formula of vinegar is CH3COOH.
  • It is a colorless liquid with a corrosive pungent vinegar-like odor with a sour taste.
  • The vinegar reacts with Phosphorous Pentachloride PCl5 to form Acetyl Chloride.

CH3COOH + PCl5   ⇢   CH3COCl + POCl3 + HCl

  • Vinegar reacts with Phosphorous Tetrachloride (PCl3) to form Acetyl Chloride and Phosphorous acid.

3 CH3COOH + PCl3    ⇢   3 CH3COCl + H3PO3

Harmful effects of Vinegar 

  • Vinegar fumes alone are not harmful unless you use concentrated vinegar. 
  • Concentrated vinegar may cause pain, irritation, and burns in the mouth, gullet, and stomach. It can provide health benefits and can also have damaging effects on your oral health. 
  • Vinegar can be as much as 7 percent of acetic acid which can cause serious dental damage. 
  • Vinegar contains a high amount of tyramine. Tyramine can contribute to high blood pressure, joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome, urticaria, and headaches. 
  • However, vinegar and bleach mixed together create chlorine gas which is very dangerous. Chlorine gas can burn skin, cause difficulty breathing, and more.

Safety measures for Vinegar 

  • Avoid contact with eyes and skin.
  • Avoid breathing vapors.
  • Wear protective clothing when handling.
  • Wash thoroughly after handling.
  • Use with adequate ventilation.
  • Wash contaminated clothing before reuse.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

Uses of Vinegar

  • Vinegar is used to remove grease, mold, and mineral deposits.
  • It is used to clean microwaves.
  • It is used to remove crayon marks.
  • It is used to clean stainless steel.
  • It is used to remove copper and brass tarnish.
  • It is used as a soap Scrum Remover.
  • It is used as a candle wax remover.
  • It is often used in cooking and making salad dressings.
  • And also used as a CD cleaner.

Sample Questions

Question 1: How does vinegar affect cells?


Vinegar contains polyphenols and plant chemicals that have an antioxidant effect that may protect cells from oxidative stress a possible simulator of tumor growth. Cell and mouse studies suggest that vinegar maybe prevent the growth of cancer cells or cause tumor cells to die.

Question 2: What are the disadvantages of vinegar?


Vinegar is acidic and can cause serious dental damage. Acid carries away the minerals in your teeth weakening enamel and potentially leading to cavities and other problems.

Question 3: What are the types of vinegar?


The common types of vinegar are,

  1. Rice vinegar,
  2. Malt vinegar,
  3. Distilled white vinegar,
  4. White wine vinegar,
  5. Apple Cider vinegar,
  6. Balsamic vinegar,
  7. Red Wine Vinegar, etc.

Question 4: What are the uses of white vinegar?


White vinegar consists of  4 to 7 percentage of acetic acid. It can be used for cooking, cleaning, baking, and weed control and may aid weight loss and lower blood sugar and cholesterol.

Question 5: What happened if you drink vinegar?


Vinegar is fine to use on food and when mixed with water, juice or any other liquid is safe to drink. But drinking vinegar straight is not recommended because it can cause problems like eroding the enamel of your teeth. Vinegar is acidic it is mildly with a pH of 2 to 3. 

Question 6: How does vinegar break down protein?


Vinegar splits the chemical bonds that hold protein strings in a twist causing the proteins to denature or unravel and tenderize. This commonly occurs when meat is marinated in a vinegar-based marinade. With continued exposure to acid, the unraveled protein strings eventually crash into each other and form new bonds.

Last Updated : 23 May, 2022
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