Acids, Bases and Salts

Formic Acid

Let us first understand what is acid. An acid is a chemical compound that releases H+ ions in an aqueous solution. We can test the acidic or basic nature of a compound by using an acid-base indicator or litmus paper. Formic acid comes in the carboxylic acid group. It is written as HCOOH and formic acid is the first member of the carboxylic acid group. Formic acid is also known as methanoic acid. To describe in detail, the formic acid formula contains 2 oxygen atoms, a single carbon atom, and 2 hydrogen atoms. Formic acid is colourless and fuming liquid. It also has a pungent acrid odour.  Formic acid is in use as a preservative and antibacterial agent, it is also useful in the manufacturing of leather and rubber. It is useful as a miticide by beekeepers.

Formic acid

Properties of Formic Acid (Methanoic Acid)

  • HCOOH is the chemical formula of formic acid. The other name for formic acid or methanoic acid, formylic acid and aminic acid.
  • The molecular weight of formic acid is 46.025 \(\frac{g}{mole}\).
  • The density of formic acid is 1.220 \(\frac{g}{mL}\).
  • Its melting point and boiling points are \(8.4 ^{\circ}C\) and \(100.8 ^{\circ}C\) respectively.
  • It has one covalently bonded unit and two hydrogen bond, an acceptor.
  • We can define its solubility as miscible with water, and its complexity is 10.3.  It is also miscible in acetone, ether, methanol, ethanol and ethyl acetate. But in benzene, toluene and xylene formic acid is partially soluble. Formic acid occurs naturally in bees, ants and insects.
  • Although it is not in use as a solvent, it is an example of a Protic solvent with high Acidity.
  • Formic acid is corrosive and skin sensitizers. Sometimes sodium formate is mildly irritating to the eyes.
  • Formic acid forms a white precipitate when it reduces mercuric chloride into mercurous chloride. It forms hydrogen chloride, formyl chloride, phosphoryl chloride when it reacts with phosphoric Pentachloride.
  • Formic acid seems to be an unpleasant chemical, which is found in some ant species,  venom and even from the secretion from stinging nettles.
  • It can be very harmful at high concentrations but on the other hand, it is very effective at low concentrations.
  • It is in use as a food preservative because of its anti-bacterial material properties.

Uses of Formic Acid

  • Formic acid is in use as a mixture with citric acid as it is unable to remove iron oxide deposits if it is in use alone.
  • One of the major areas in which formic acid is useful is industrial chemicals in saturated monocarboxylic acids.
  • Formic acid is very much useful as a reducing agent to reduce potassium dichromate and sodium.
  • It is in use in tanning and dyeing industries, but other competing assets are cheaper and therefore formic acid is less in use or in a few cases in which it has specific advantages.
  • Formic acid shows anti-bacterial properties as a result formic acid is of very high use in the agriculture industry.
  • It is very well known as a pesticide and is proven beneficial to prevent crops from being prone to attacks from different kinds of pests.

Formic Acid is a Strong Acid

Firstly, a strong acid is an acid that disassociates completely in an aqueous solution. Whereas a weak acid dissociates partially in an aqueous solution.  Hence by this property, we can say that formic acid is a weak acid and it occurs naturally in stings of bees and ants. Formic acid can also form by the distillation of ants.

FAQs on Formic Acid

Q.1. How can we neutralise formic acid?

Answer. Baking soda is useful for the neutralisation of formic acid. If we spell some formic acid on our skin or concrete we can use a thick paste of sodium bicarbonate water to neutralise it.

Q.2. Which acid is more acidic formic or acetic?

Answer. Formic acid is stronger than acetic acid because it does not consist of a contributing group of electrons. The methyl group is an electron-donating group that destabilise is the conjugate base’s negative charge, this is also one of the reasons that acetic is less acidic than formic acid.

Q.3. What is the Lewis structure form of formic acid?

Answer. Lewis structure pictorially represents all lone pairs and bonds. It provides a vivid image of the compound. The Lewis structure of formic acid consists of 5 bond pairs and 4 lone pairs. The acid is chemically stable. There are 2 lone pairs on each oxygen.

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