A Conversation for Alkanoic acids


Post 1


You didn't mention the smells: ethanoic acid is obviously vinegar and methanoic and propanoic are similar. Butanoic acid, however, is about as revolting as they come: a strong smell of vomit (or parmesan cheese - same thing!). I haven't encountered the others but I think nonanoic acid is the one that smells of goats. My lecturer at Sheffield, Dr Peter Jones, managed to clear a railway compartment with a jacket impregnated with this acid: he thought he'd washed it out, but in the warmth of the carriage he discovered his mistake...

Has anyone else first-hand experience of these smells?


Post 2


I've had first hand experience with all of these acids, so know their smells. Methanoic acid, ethanoic acid and propanoic acid all have bearable smells; butanoic acid does not.

In one of my chemistry labs, a person once spilled most of a bottle of 1M butanoic acid. We couldn't use that lab - or the rooms either side of it - again for a week. smiley - yikes



Post 3

BigAl Patron Saint of Left Handers Keeper of the Glowing Pickle and Monobrows

Ref goats, I always remember my chemistry lecturer at college, when trying to explain the benefits of systematic organic nomenclature, mentioed capric, capryllic and caproic acids:

"One would think from their names, that these have similar structural formulae. Not a bit of it. They all derive their names from the fact that they all smell of a goat. L.caper = goat."

smiley - biggrin

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