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Methanoic Acid vs. Ethanoic Acid: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 7, 2024
Methanoic Acid (HCOOH) is the simplest carboxylic acid with one carbon atom; Ethanoic Acid (CH3COOH) has two carbon atoms and is known as acetic acid.
Methanoic Acid vs. Ethanoic Acid

Key Differences

Methanoic Acid, also known as formic acid, is the simplest form of carboxylic acid containing only one carbon atom. Ethanoic Acid, commonly referred to as acetic acid, contains two carbon atoms, making it one step more complex in structure than methanoic acid.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 07, 2024
In terms of molecular formula, Methanoic Acid is represented as HCOOH, indicating its single carbon composition. Ethanoic Acid, on the other hand, has the molecular formula CH3COOH, reflecting the presence of an additional carbon atom.
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Regarding occurrence, Methanoic Acid is commonly found in insect stings and certain plant secretions. Ethanoic Acid is widely known for its presence in vinegar, giving it its characteristic sour taste and smell.
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Methanoic Acid exhibits a strong, pungent odor and is a colorless liquid. In contrast, Ethanoic Acid, while also colorless, has a distinctive vinegar-like smell due to its prevalent use in culinary applications.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 07, 2024
In industrial applications, Methanoic Acid is used in leather processing and as a coagulant in rubber production. Ethanoic Acid finds extensive use as a chemical reagent and solvent in various industrial processes, including the production of plastics and pharmaceuticals.
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Comparison Chart

Carbon Atoms

One
Two
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Molecular Formula

HCOOH
CH3COOH
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Common Name

Formic Acid
Acetic Acid
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Natural Occurrence

Insect stings, plants
Vinegar
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Industrial Use

Leather, rubber coagulant
Solvent, plastics, pharma
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Smell

Pungent odor
Vinegar-like
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Chemical Structure

Simplest carboxylic acid
Second simplest
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Methanoic Acid and Ethanoic Acid Definitions

Methanoic Acid

The simplest form of carboxylic acid with a chemical formula of HCOOH.
Methanoic Acid's formula, HCOOH, denotes its single carbon atom.
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Ethanoic Acid

An organic acid that forms acetate salts and esters.
The reaction produced Ethanoic Acid, which was then converted to its ester.
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Methanoic Acid

A naturally occurring substance in ant stings and nettles.
Methanoic Acid is responsible for the irritation caused by ant bites.
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Ethanoic Acid

A carboxylic acid with two carbon atoms, known as acetic acid.
Ethanoic Acid, or acetic acid, is a key component in vinegar.
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Methanoic Acid

A substance used as a preservative and antibacterial agent in livestock feed.
Methanoic Acid is added to animal feed to prevent spoilage.
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Ethanoic Acid

A chemical compound with the formula CH3COOH, used as a solvent.
Ethanoic Acid is used in organic synthesis as a solvent.
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Methanoic Acid

An agent used in dyeing and tanning leather.
The leather was treated with Methanoic Acid for better texture.
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Ethanoic Acid

A sour, vinegar-like smelling liquid used in food and chemical industries.
Ethanoic Acid is what gives vinegar its distinct sour taste.
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Methanoic Acid

A colorless liquid with a pungent odor, used industrially.
The pungent smell in the lab was due to spilled Methanoic Acid.
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Ethanoic Acid

A colorless liquid used in the manufacture of plastics and pharmaceuticals.
Ethanoic Acid's role in producing certain plastics is crucial in the industry.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is Methanoic Acid?

Methanoic Acid is the simplest carboxylic acid with one carbon atom.
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Jan 07, 2024

What is Ethanoic Acid?

Ethanoic Acid is a carboxylic acid with two carbon atoms, also known as acetic acid.
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What are common uses of Ethanoic Acid?

It's used in food, as a solvent, and in making plastics.
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How is Methanoic Acid used in industry?

It's used in tanning leather and as a preservative.
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Is Methanoic Acid dangerous?

It can be corrosive and irritating if not handled properly.
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What's the pH level of Ethanoic Acid?

It's a weak acid with a higher pH than Methanoic Acid.
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Where is Methanoic Acid found naturally?

It is found in ant stings and some plants.
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What is the molecular formula of Ethanoic Acid?

Its formula is CH3COOH.
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Is Ethanoic Acid the same as vinegar?

Ethanoic Acid is a key component of vinegar.
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Can Ethanoic Acid be consumed?

Yes, it's safe in diluted forms like vinegar.
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What is the molecular formula of Methanoic Acid?

Its formula is HCOOH.
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What's the pH level of Methanoic Acid?

It's a strong acid with a low pH.
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Can Methanoic Acid be synthesized?

Yes, it can be chemically synthesized.
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What is the boiling point of Methanoic Acid?

It has a boiling point of about 100.8°C.
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What is the boiling point of Ethanoic Acid?

It boils at about 118°C.
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What precautions are needed when handling Methanoic Acid?

Use protective gear and proper ventilation.
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How is Ethanoic Acid produced commercially?

It's produced by the fermentation of sugars.
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Is Methanoic Acid found in food?

It's not commonly found in food.
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Can Ethanoic Acid be used in medicine?

Yes, in dilute forms, it has medicinal applications.
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Is Ethanoic Acid harmful to the environment?

In concentrated forms, it can be harmful.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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