Ethyl acetate is a colorless liquid chemical with a fruity smell to it. Acetic acid and ethanol are combined in a chemical reaction to form ethyl acetate. It is known as a polar aprotic solvent. Polarity is known as the distribution of electrical charges over atoms joined by a bond. Being polar, there is an uneven charge distribution in this chemical, making it ideal for certain types of binding. Aprotic solvents lack certain other structures that prevent them from hydrogen bonding with other molecules of the same structure. This is useful because hydrogen bonds are fairly strong and difficult to break. Polar aprotic solvents have medium range polarity which is due to the double bonding between carbon and oxygen or sulfur and oxygen. This medium range polarity allows ethyl acetate to bond to a wide range of substances and chemicals.
Is Ethyl Acetate Safe?
Ethyl acetate has been deemed safe enough to use in synthetic flavorings per the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). However, when using ethyl acetate, it is important to wear the proper protective clothing (gloves, impact and splash resistant googles, etc.) because the chemical can be an irritant to the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. One may also want to wear a mask or respirator when dealing with this chemical to avoid irritation of the nose and throat. Overall, this chemical is safe for use in lab settings with proper precautions.
What is Ethyl Acetate Used For?
Ethyl acetate has a wide range of uses. Typically, it is used as a solvent, however it is also used to flavor certain foods and drinks, such as wine and candies. This chemical is commonly used to pull caffeine out of coffees and teas, making “decaf” coffee and uncaffeinated teas out of teas that are naturally caffeinated. Ethyl acetate is commonly used as a solvent for:
- Decaffeination of coffee and tea
- Processing in the pharmaceutical industry
- Extract tobacco from cigarettes
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