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Methanoic Acid vs. Ethanoic Acid: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sara Rehman || By Sumera Saeed || Published on January 18, 2024
Methanoic acid (HCOOH) is the simplest carboxylic acid, with one carbon atom, while ethanoic acid (CH3COOH) has two carbon atoms and a familiar vinegar smell.

Key Differences

Methanoic acid, also known as formic acid, is characterized by having only one carbon atom in its structure. Ethanoic acid, commonly known as acetic acid, has two carbon atoms, making it slightly larger and more complex than methanoic acid.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024
In methanoic acid, the carboxyl group is attached directly to a hydrogen atom, whereas in ethanoic acid, this group is connected to a methyl group (CH3). This structural difference impacts their physical and chemical properties.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024
Methanoic acid is found naturally in ant stings and is a simpler molecule. Ethanoic acid, on the other hand, is a key component of vinegar and is used extensively in food and industrial applications.
Sara Rehman
Jan 18, 2024
The boiling point of methanoic acid is 100.8°C, which is lower than ethanoic acid’s boiling point of 118.1°C. This difference is due to the increased molecular weight and stronger intermolecular forces in ethanoic acid.
Harlon Moss
Jan 18, 2024
Methanoic acid has a pungent odor and is more corrosive compared to ethanoic acid, which has a sour smell characteristic of vinegar and is less corrosive.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 18, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Molecular Formula

HCOOH
CH3COOH
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

Carbon Atoms

1
2
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

Odor

Pungent
Vinegar-like
Sara Rehman
Jan 18, 2024

Boiling Point

100.8°C
118.1°C
Janet White
Jan 18, 2024

Natural Occurrence

Ant stings, plant secretions
Vinegar, plant secretions
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024
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Methanoic Acid and Ethanoic Acid Definitions

Methanoic Acid

It's the simplest type of carboxylic acid.
Methanoic acid reacts vigorously with bases.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanoic Acid

A carboxylic acid with two carbon atoms.
Ethanoic acid is commonly used in vinegar.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Methanoic Acid

A simple carboxylic acid with one carbon atom.
Methanoic acid is used in leather tanning.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanoic Acid

Known as acetic acid, it has a sour smell.
Ethanoic acid gives pickles their characteristic tang.
Sara Rehman
Dec 22, 2023

Methanoic Acid

Methanoic acid is corrosive and can cause skin irritation.
Handling methanoic acid requires protective gear.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanoic Acid

A key ingredient in industrial solvents and vinegar.
Ethanoic acid is used in cleaning agents.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 22, 2023

Methanoic Acid

A colorless liquid with a pungent odor.
Methanoic acid is often used in food preservation.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanoic Acid

Ethanoic acid is less corrosive than methanoic acid.
Ethanoic acid is safer for culinary uses.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Methanoic Acid

Also known as formic acid, it's found in ant venom.
The burning sensation from an ant bite is due to methanoic acid.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

Ethanoic Acid

It's a colorless liquid that freezes below 16.7°C.
Ethanoic acid forms ice-like crystals at low temperatures.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

FAQs

Where is methanoic acid found naturally?

In ant stings and certain plant secretions.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

What is ethanoic acid?

Ethanoic acid, or acetic acid, has two carbon atoms and is a key component of vinegar.
Sara Rehman
Jan 18, 2024

What is the boiling point of ethanoic acid?

Around 118.1°C.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

What are the uses of ethanoic acid?

In food, as vinegar, and in industrial solvents.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

Is methanoic acid more corrosive than ethanoic acid?

Yes, it's more corrosive and has a stronger odor.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

What is methanoic acid?

It's the simplest carboxylic acid with a single carbon atom.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

Does methanoic acid have a distinct smell?

Yes, it has a pungent, irritating odor.
Janet White
Jan 18, 2024

What is the odor of ethanoic acid?

It has a sour, vinegar-like smell.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

Is methanoic acid found in vinegar?

No, vinegar primarily contains ethanoic acid.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

Are there any safety concerns with ethanoic acid?

It's less corrosive but should still be handled with care.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

What is the boiling point of methanoic acid?

Approximately 100.8°C.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

Can methanoic acid be used in agriculture?

Yes, as a pesticide and soil treatment.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 18, 2024

Is ethanoic acid used in cleaning products?

Yes, it's used in various cleaning agents.
Janet White
Jan 18, 2024

Can ethanoic acid be used in food?

Yes, it's commonly used in food items like vinegar.
Janet White
Jan 18, 2024

What are the physical properties of methanoic acid?

It's a colorless liquid with a strong odor.
Harlon Moss
Jan 18, 2024

What are the physical properties of ethanoic acid?

A colorless liquid that freezes below 16.7°C.
Janet White
Jan 18, 2024

Is ethanoic acid harmful to humans?

In high concentrations, it can be harmful, but it's generally safe in dilute forms like vinegar.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 18, 2024

Can methanoic acid be synthesized artificially?

Yes, it can be produced through chemical synthesis.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 18, 2024

Is ethanoic acid environmentally friendly?

Generally, it's considered safe for the environment.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 18, 2024

How is methanoic acid used industrially?

In leather tanning and as a preservative.
Harlon Moss
Jan 18, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.

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