Methyl acetate

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Methyl acetate [1]
Methyl acetate.svg
Methyl acetate 3D ball.png
Preferred IUPAC name
Methyl acetate
Systematic IUPAC name
Methyl ethanoate
Other names
Methyl ester of acetic acid
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.001.078 OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
PubChem CID
  • InChI=1S/C3H6O2/c1-3(4)5-2/h1-2H3 Yes check.svgY
  • InChI=1/C3H6O2/c1-3(4)5-2/h1-2H3
  • O=C(OC)C
Molar mass 74.079 g·mol−1
AppearanceColorless liquid
Odor Fragrant, fruity [2]
Density 0.932 g cm−3
Melting point −98 °C (−144 °F; 175 K)
Boiling point 56.9 °C (134.4 °F; 330.0 K)
~25% (20 °C)
Vapor pressure 173 mmHg (20°C) [2]
-42.60·10−6 cm3/mol
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
Flash point −10 °C; 14 °F; 263 K [2]
Explosive limits 3.1%-16% [2]
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
3700 mg/kg (oral, rabbit) [3]
11,039 ppm (mouse, 4 hr)
21,753 ppm (cat, 1 hr)
32,000 ppm (rat, 4 hr) [3]
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 200 ppm (610 mg/m3) [2]
REL (Recommended)
TWA 200 ppm (610 mg/m3) ST 250 ppm (760 mg/m3) [2]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
3100 ppm [2]
Safety data sheet (SDS) External MSDS
Related compounds
Related esters
Methyl formate
Ethyl acetate
Ethyl formate
Methyl fluoroacetate
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
X mark.svgN  verify  (what is  Yes check.svgYX mark.svgN ?)

Methyl acetate, also known as MeOAc, acetic acid methyl ester or methyl ethanoate, is a carboxylate ester with the formula CH3COOCH3. It is a flammable liquid with a characteristically pleasant smell reminiscent of some glues and nail polish removers. Methyl acetate is occasionally used as a solvent, being weakly polar and lipophilic, but its close relative ethyl acetate is a more common solvent being less toxic and less soluble in water. Methyl acetate has a solubility of 25% in water at room temperature. At elevated temperature its solubility in water is much higher. Methyl acetate is not stable in the presence of strong aqueous bases or aqueous acids. Methyl acetate is not considered a VOC in the USA. [4] [5]


Preparation and reactions

Methyl acetate is produced industrially via the carbonylation of methanol as a byproduct of the production of acetic acid. [6] Methyl acetate also arises by esterification of acetic acid with methanol in the presence of strong acids such as sulfuric acid; this production process is famous because of Eastman Kodak's intensified process using a reactive distillation.


In the presence of strong bases such as sodium hydroxide or strong acids such as hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid it is hydrolyzed back into methanol and acetic acid, especially at elevated temperature. The conversion of methyl acetate back into its components, by an acid, is a first-order reaction with respect to the ester. The reaction of methyl acetate and a base, for example sodium hydroxide, is a second-order reaction with respect to both reactants.

Methyl acetate is a Lewis base that forms 1:1 adducts with a variety of Lewis acids. It is classified as a hard base and is a base in the ECW model with EB =1.63 and CB = 0.95.


A major use of methyl acetate is as a volatile low toxicity solvent in glues, paints, and nail polish removers.

Acetic anhydride is produced by carbonylation of methyl acetate in a process that was inspired by the Monsanto acetic acid synthesis. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carboxylic acid</span> Organic compound containing a –C(=O)OH group

In organic chemistry, a carboxylic acid is an organic acid that contains a carboxyl group attached to an R-group. The general formula of a carboxylic acid is R−COOH or R−CO2H, with R referring to the alkyl, alkenyl, aryl, or other group. Carboxylic acids occur widely. Important examples include the amino acids and fatty acids. Deprotonation of a carboxylic acid gives a carboxylate anion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ester</span> Oxoacid molecule with –OH group(s) replaced by –O–

In chemistry, an ester is a compound derived from an oxoacid in which at least one hydroxyl group is replaced by an alkoxy group, as in the substitution reaction of a carboxylic acid and an alcohol. Glycerides are fatty acid esters of glycerol; they are important in biology, being one of the main classes of lipids and comprising the bulk of animal fats and vegetable oils.

In chemistry, a salt is a chemical compound consisting of an ionic assembly of positively charged cations and negatively charged anions, which results in a compound with no net electric charge. A common example is table salt, with positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged chloride ions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Potassium hydroxide</span> Inorganic compound (KOH)

Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, and is commonly called caustic potash.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cellulose acetate</span> Organic compounds which are acetate esters of cellulose

In biochemistry, cellulose acetate refers to any acetate ester of cellulose, usually cellulose diacetate. It was first prepared in 1865. A bioplastic, cellulose acetate is used as a film base in photography, as a component in some coatings, and as a frame material for eyeglasses; it is also used as a synthetic fiber in the manufacture of cigarette filters and playing cards. In photographic film, cellulose acetate film replaced nitrate film in the 1950s, being far less flammable and cheaper to produce.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fischer–Speier esterification</span>

Fischer esterification or Fischer–Speier esterification is a special type of esterification by refluxing a carboxylic acid and an alcohol in the presence of an acid catalyst. The reaction was first described by Emil Fischer and Arthur Speier in 1895. Most carboxylic acids are suitable for the reaction, but the alcohol should generally be primary or secondary. Tertiary alcohols are prone to elimination. Contrary to common misconception found in organic chemistry textbooks, phenols can also be esterified to give good to near quantitative yield of products. Commonly used catalysts for a Fischer esterification include sulfuric acid, p-toluenesulfonic acid, and Lewis acids such as scandium(III) triflate. For more valuable or sensitive substrates other, milder procedures such as Steglich esterification are used. The reaction is often carried out without a solvent or in a non-polar solvent to facilitate the Dean-Stark method. Typical reaction times vary from 1–10 hours at temperatures of 60-110 °C.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ethyl acetate</span> Chemical compound

Ethyl acetate is the organic compound with the formula CH3CO2CH2CH3, simplified to C4H8O2. This colorless liquid has a characteristic sweet smell and is used in glues, nail polish removers, and in the decaffeination process of tea and coffee. Ethyl acetate is the ester of ethanol and acetic acid; it is manufactured on a large scale for use as a solvent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Acetic anhydride</span> Chemical compound

Acetic anhydride, or ethanoic anhydride, is the chemical compound with the formula (CH3CO)2O. Commonly abbreviated Ac2O, it is the simplest isolable anhydride of a carboxylic acid and is widely used as a reagent in organic synthesis. It is a colorless liquid that smells strongly of acetic acid, which is formed by its reaction with moisture in the air.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sodium acetate</span> Chemical compound

Sodium acetate, CH3COONa, also abbreviated NaOAc, is the sodium salt of acetic acid. This colorless deliquescent salt has a wide range of uses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cellulose triacetate</span> Chemical compound

Cellulose triacetate, is a chemical compound produced from cellulose and a source of acetate esters, typically acetic anhydride. Triacetate is commonly used for the creation of fibres and film base. It is chemically similar to cellulose acetate. Its distinguishing characteristic is that in triacetate, at least "92 percent of the hydroxyl groups are acetylated." During the manufacture of triacetate, the cellulose is completely acetylated; whereas in normal cellulose acetate or cellulose diacetate, it is only partially acetylated. Triacetate is significantly more heat resistant than cellulose acetate.

The Monsanto process is an industrial method for the manufacture of acetic acid by catalytic carbonylation of methanol. The Monsanto process has largely been supplanted by the Cativa process, a similar iridium-based process developed by BP Chemicals Ltd which is more economical and environmentally friendly.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dimethylacetamide</span> Chemical compound

Dimethylacetamide (DMAc or DMA) is the organic compound with the formula CH3C(O)N(CH3)2. This colorless, water-miscible, high-boiling liquid is commonly used as a polar solvent in organic synthesis. DMA is miscible with most other solvents, although it is poorly soluble in aliphatic hydrocarbons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sodium formate</span> Chemical compound

Sodium formate, HCOONa, is the sodium salt of formic acid, HCOOH. It usually appears as a white deliquescent powder.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dimethyl carbonate</span> Chemical compound

Dimethyl carbonate (DMC) is an organic compound with the formula OC(OCH3)2. It is a colourless, flammable liquid. It is classified as a carbonate ester. This compound has found use as a methylating agent and more recently as a solvent that is exempt from the restrictions placed on most volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the US. Dimethyl carbonate is often considered to be a green reagent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cellulose acetate phthalate</span> Chemical compound

Cellulose acetate phthalate (CAP), also known as cellacefate (INN) and cellulosi acetas phthalas, is a commonly used polymer phthalate in the formulation of pharmaceuticals, such as the enteric coating of tablets or capsules and for controlled release formulations. It is a cellulose polymer where about half of the hydroxyls are esterified with acetyls, a quarter are esterified with one or two carboxyls of a phthalic acid, and the remainder are unchanged. It is a hygroscopic white to off-white free-flowing powder, granules, or flakes. It is tasteless and odorless, though may have a weak odor of acetic acid. Its main use in pharmaceutics is with enteric formulations. It can be used together with other coating agents, e.g. ethyl cellulose. Cellulose acetate phthalate is commonly plasticized with diethyl phthalate, a hydrophobic compound, or triethyl citrate, a hydrophilic compound; other compatible plasticizers are various phthalates, triacetin, dibutyl tartrate, glycerol, propylene glycol, tripropionin, triacetin citrate, acetylated monoglycerides, etc.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Erlenmeyer–Plöchl azlactone and amino-acid synthesis</span>

The Erlenmeyer–Plöchl azlactone and amino acid synthesis, named after Friedrich Gustav Carl Emil Erlenmeyer who partly discovered the reaction, is a series of chemical reactions which transform an N-acyl glycine to various other amino acids via an oxazolone.

Carbonylation refers to reactions that introduce carbon monoxide into organic and inorganic substrates. Carbon monoxide is abundantly available and conveniently reactive, so it is widely used as a reactant in industrial chemistry. The term carbonylation also refers to oxidation of protein side chains.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Acetic acid</span> Colorless and faint organic acid found in vinegar

Acetic acid, systematically named ethanoic acid, is an acidic, colourless liquid and organic compound with the chemical formula CH3COOH. Vinegar is at least 4% acetic acid by volume, making acetic acid the main component of vinegar apart from water and other trace elements.

Potassium methoxide is the alkoxide of methanol with the counterion potassium and is used as a strong base and as a catalyst for transesterification, in particular for the production of biodiesel.

11-Aminoundecanoic acid is an organic compound with the formula H2N(CH2)10CO2H. This white solid is classified as an amine and a fatty acid. 11-Aminoundecanoic acid is a precursor to Nylon-11.


  1. Merck Index , 12th Edition, 6089.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. "#0391". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  3. 1 2 "Methyl acetate". Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLH). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  4. Zeno, W. Wicks, JR, Frank N. Jones, S. Peter Pappas, and Douglas A. Wicks (2007). Organic Coatings. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. ISBN   978-0-471-69806-7.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. "Update: U.S. EPA Exempt Volatile Organic Compounds". American Coatings Association. 2018-01-30. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  6. Hosea Cheung, Robin S. Tanke, G. Paul Torrence “Acetic Acid” in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 2002, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi : 10.1002/14356007.a01_045
  7. Zoeller, J. R.; Agreda, V. H.; Cook, S. L.; Lafferty, N. L.; Polichnowski, S. W.; Pond, D. M. (1992). "Eastman Chemical Company Acetic Anhydride Process". Catalysis Today . 13: 73–91. doi:10.1016/0920-5861(92)80188-S.