Formic acid formulaFormic acid is the simplest carboxylic acid. It is also known as methanoic acid in the market. Formic acid is a naturally occurring substance, found due to forest emissions and in insects like bees and ants. In the market, it is available as a colorless fuming liquid.  Ants belong to the family of Formicidae, they spray formic acid from their body onto the enemies whenever they are attacked. For many chemical reactions, it is an important intermediate. It is one of the vital ingredients for preparing industrial-grade methanol. For Formic acid MSDS and TDS you can check Specification tab. 

Some of the top players in formic acid are BASF, Eastman chemical company, and Feicheng acid chemicals. When studied geographically Europe, especially Germany and Mainland China are the top suppliers for formic acid in the world.

Manufacturing process:

  • With methyl formate and formamide – When methanol reacts with water, methyl formate is formed. This on further hydrolysis gives formic acid.

CH3OH + CO → HCO2CH3

HCO2CH3 + H2O → HCO2H + CH3OH

  • Ammonia can be used. Methyl formate reacts with ammonia to form formamide, which on treatment with sulphuric acid gives formic acid.

HCO2CH3 + NH3 → HC(O)NH2 + CH3OH

2 HC(O)NH2 + 2H2O + H2SO4 → 2HCO2H + (NH4)2SO4

Many manufacturers use the first route to avoid the formation of by-products formed in the second route. 

  • In the laboratory, formic acid can be obtained by heating oxalic acid in glycerol.  Glycerol acts as a catalyst, as the reaction proceeds through a glyceryl oxalate intermediary.

C2O4H2 → CO2H2 + CO

The Uses of Formic Acid

  • It is widely used as a food preservative. When sprayed on livestock, it slows down the decay process while retaining back its nutritional value.
  • Used in rubber and leather industry. One of the main applications is to convert sap into raw rubber. 
  • It kills microorganisms, thus used in detergents and soaps for cleaning and bleaching purposes. 
  • In addition to providing a certain level of antibacterial support, formic acid allows silage to begin fermentation at a lower temperature, greatly reducing the overall time that it takes to produce while increasing the nutritional value of the finished product.
  • In addition to its use in the leather, textile and rubber industries, derivatives of formic acid have recently been developed to help fight slippery road conditions in countries such as Austria and Switzerland. These countries, which fight bitter winters and very dangerous roads, are now using formates, which are the salts that are derived from formic acid. Not only are these formates more effective than traditional salt treatments, but they are also more environmentally friendly. When used properly, formates can greatly increase the gripping ability of otherwise slick surfaces, as well as promote the removal of these surfaces with machines and other technologies.
  • Used for hydrogen production as formic acid is a source for hydride ion in Eschweiler-Clarke reaction and the Leuckart-Wallach reaction.
  • In electrochemistry, formic acid is used in fuel cells and is found to give promising results.
  • Some of formic acid esters are used as perfumes and deodorants.
  • Used as insecticides and pesticides in the agricultural industry.
PRODUCT IDENTIFICATION
 CAS NO 64-18-6
 FORMULA HCOOH
 H.S CODE 29151100
 MOL WT 46.025 g mol-1
 SYNONYMS Methanoic acid, Formylic acid, Hydrogen carboxylic acid
 

PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES

 PHYSICAL STATE Clear liquid
 MELTING POINT8oC
BOILING POINT101oC @ 760 mmHg
SOLUBILITY IN WATERMiscible.
PH3.47 (1mM)
SPECIFIC GRAVITY1.220
NFPA RATINGSHealth: 3; Flammability: 2; Instability: 1
STABILITYHygroscopic: absorbs moisture or water from the air. Keep Refrigerated. Formic acid may decompose to carbon Monoxide and water or carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas. These decomposition products develop pressure. Heat Sensitive.