The most important building of carboxylic acids, and also the one that is responsible for naming them such, is their acidity. An acid is any kind of compound that donates a hydrogen ion, H+ (likewise dubbed a proton), to another compound, termed a base. Carboxylic acids execute this much even more easily than a lot of various other classes of organic compounds, so they are said to be stronger acids, even though they are a lot weaker than the the majority of crucial mineral acids—sulfuric (H2SO4), nitric (HNO3), and hydrochloric (HCl). The reason for the enhanced acidity of this team of compounds deserve to finest be demonstrated by a comparison of their acidity via that of alcohols, both of which contain an ―OH team. Alcohols are neutral compounds in aqueous solution. When an alcohol donates its proton, it becomes a negative ion dubbed an alkoxide ion, RO−. When a carboxylic acid donates its proton, it becomes a negatively charged ion, RCOO−, dubbed a carboxylate ion.

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A carboxylate ion is much even more secure than the corresponding alkoxide ion because of the existence of resonance structures for the carboxylate ion which disperse its negative charge. Only one framework have the right to be attracted for an alkoxide ion, but two structures can be attracted for a carboxylate ion. When two or even more frameworks that differ just in the positions of valence electrons can be attracted for a molecule or ion, it indicates that its valence electrons are delocalized, or spreview over even more than two atoms. This phenomenon is referred to as resonance, and also the frameworks are called resonance creates. A double-headed arrowhead is used to present that the 2 or even more frameworks are related by resonance. Due to the fact that tright here are 2 resonance forms yet only one real ion, it adheres to that neither of these develops is an exact representation of the actual ion. The genuine structure incorporates aspects of both resonance frameworks but duplicates neither. Resonance constantly stabilizes a molecule or ion, even if charge is not associated. The stability of an anion determines the toughness of its parent acid. A carboxylic acid is, therefore, a a lot stronger acid than the equivalent alcohol, because, as soon as it loses its proton, a much more stable ion outcomes.

Some atoms or groups, when attached to a carbon, are electron-withdrawing, as compared with a hydrogen atom in the same place. For example, take into consideration chloroacetic acid (Cl―CH2COOH) compared with acetic acid (H―CH2COOH). Due to the fact that chlorine has a higher electronegativity than hydrogen, the electrons in the Cl―C bond are attracted farther from the carbon than the electrons in the matching H―C bond. Hence, chlorine is thought about to be an electron-withdrawing group. This is one example of the so-referred to as inductive result, in which a substituent affects a compound’s circulation of electrons. There are a variety of such results, and atoms or groups may be electron-withdrawing or electron-donating as compared with hydrogen. The existence of such teams near the COOH team of a carboxylic acid frequently has an result on the acidity. In general, electron-withillustration teams increase acidity by raising the stcapacity of the carboxylate ion. In contrast, electron-donating teams decrease acidity by destabilizing the carboxylate ion. For example, the methyl team, ―CH3, is mostly concerned as electron-donating, and acetic acid, CH3 COOH, is around 10 times weaker as an acid than formic acid, HCOOH. Similarly, chloroacetic acid, ClCH2 COOH, in which the strongly electron-withillustration chlorine reareas a hydrogen atom, is around 100 times stronger as an acid than acetic acid, and also nitroacetic acid, NO2CH2 COOH, is also more powerful. (The NO2 group is a really solid electron-withillustration team.) An also better result is uncovered in trichloroacetic acid, Cl3CCOOH, whose acid strength is about the exact same as that of hydrochloric acid.


The solubility of carboxylic acids in water is equivalent to that of alcohols, aldehydes, and also ketones. Acids with fewer than about five carbons dissettle in water; those through a higher molecular weight are insoluble owing to the larger hydrocarbon portion, which is hydrophobic. The sodium, ammonium, and also potassium salts of carboxylic acids, yet, are primarily rather soluble in water. Hence, practically any carboxylic acid have the right to be made to dissettle in water by converting it to such a salt, which is conveniently done by including a strong base—a lot of commonly sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or potassium hydroxide, (KOH). The calcium and sodium salts of propanoic (propionic) acid are offered as preservatives, chiefly in cheese, bcheck out, and other baked goods.

Boiling point

Carboxylic acids have much higher boiling points than hydrocarbons, alcohols, ethers, aldehydes, or ketones of equivalent molecular weight. Even the most basic carboxylic acid, formic acid, boils at 101 °C (214 °F), which is substantially higher than the boiling suggest of ethanol (ethyl alcohol), C2H5OH, which boils at 78.5 °C (173 °F), although the 2 have almost identical molecular weights. The difference is that two molecules of a carboxylic acid form 2 hydrogen bonds through each various other (2 alcohol molecules can just develop one). Hence, carboxylic acids exist as dimers (pairs of molecules), not just in the liquid state however also to some degree in the gaseous state.


Because of this, boiling a carboxylic acid needs the addition of even more warm than boiling the matching alcohol, bereason (1) if the dimer persists in the gaseous state, the molecular weight is in effect doubled; and, (2) if the dimer is broken upon boiling, additional energy is forced to break the 2 hydrogen bonds. Carboxylic acids with greater molecular weights are solids at room temperature (e.g., benzoic and palmitic acids). Virtually all salts of carboxylic acids are solids at room temperature, as deserve to be supposed for ionic compounds.

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Unbranched-chain carboxylic acids (fatty acids) that are liquids at room temperature, especially those from propanoic (C3) to decanoic (C10) acid, have incredibly foul, disagreeable odours. An example is butanoic (butyric) acid (C4), which is the major ingredient in stale perspiration and therefore the chief reason of “locker-room” odour.