Acetic acid, CH3COOH, also known as ethanoic acid, is an organic acid, which gives vinegar its sour taste and pungent smell. It is a weak acid, in that it is only a partially dissociated acid in an aqueous solution. Pure, water-free acetic acid (glacial acetic acid) is a colourless liquid that absorbs water from the environment (hygroscopy), and freezes at 16.5 °C (62 °F) to a colourless crystalline solid. The pure acid, and concentrated solutions, are dangerously corrosive.
Acetic acid is one of the simplest carboxylic acids. It is an important chemical reagent and industrial chemical, used in the production of polyethylene terephthalate mainly used in soft drink bottles; cellulose acetate, mainly for photographic film; and polyvinyl acetate for wood glue, as well as synthetic fibres and fabrics. In households, diluted acetic acid is often used in descaling agents. In the food industry acetic acid is used under the food additive code E260 as an acidity regulator and as a condiment.
The global demand of acetic acid is around 6.5 million tonnes per year (Mt/a), of which approximately 1.5 Mt/a is met by recycling; the remainder is manufactured from petrochemical feedstocks or from biological sources. Dilute acetic acid produced by natural fermentation is called vinegar.