Ethyl acetate (systematically ethyl ethanoate, commonly abbreviated EtOAc, ETAC or EA) is the organic compound with the formula CH3−COO−CH2−CH3, simplified to C4H8O2. This colorless liquid has a characteristic sweet smell (similar to pear drops) 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.
|Preferred IUPAC name
|Systematic IUPAC name
3D model (JSmol)
|E number||E1504 (additional chemicals)|
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
|Molar mass||88.106 g·mol−1|
|Melting point||−83.6 °C (−118.5 °F; 189.6 K)|
|Boiling point||77.1 °C (170.8 °F; 350.2 K)|
|8.3 g/100 mL (at 20 °C)|
|Solubility in ethanol, acetone, diethyl ether, benzene||Miscible|
|Vapor pressure||73 mmHg (9.7 kPa) at 20 °C|
Refractive index (nD)
|Viscosity||426 μPa·s (0.426 cP) at 25 °C|
|Occupational safety and health (OHS/OSH):|
|H225, H319, H336|
|P210, P233, P240, P305+P351+P338, P403+P235|
|NFPA 704 (fire diamond)|
|Flash point||−4 °C (25 °F; 269 K)|
|Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):|
LD50 (median dose)
|11.3 g/kg, rat|
LC50 (median concentration)
|16,000 ppm (rat, 6 h)|
12,295 ppm (mouse, 2 h)
1600 ppm (rat, 8 h)
LCLo (lowest published)
|21 ppm (guinea pig, 1 h)|
12,330 ppm (mouse, 3 h)
|NIOSH (US health exposure limits):|
|TWA 400 ppm (1400 mg/m3)|
|TWA 400 ppm (1400 mg/m3)|
IDLH (Immediate danger)
Related carboxylate esters
|Supplementary data page|
|Ethyl acetate (data page)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Production and synthesisEdit
In 2004, an estimated 1.3 million tonnes were produced worldwide. The combined annual production in 1985 of Japan, North America, and Europe was about 400,000 tonnes. The global ethyl acetate market was valued at $3.3 billion in 2018.
- CH3CO2H + CH3CH2OH → CH3CO2CH2CH3 + H2O
The reaction can be accelerated by acid catalysis and the equilibrium can be shifted to the right by removal of water.
- 2 CH3CHO → CH3CO2CH2CH3
- C2H4 + CH3CO2H → CH3CO2C2H5
Ethyl acetate is used primarily as a solvent and diluent, being favored because of its low cost, low toxicity, and agreeable odor. For example, it is commonly used to clean circuit boards and in some nail varnish removers (acetone is also used). Coffee beans and tea leaves are decaffeinated with this solvent (when supercritical CO2 extraction is not possible). It is also used in paints as an activator or hardener. Ethyl acetate is present in confectionery, perfumes, and fruits. In perfumes it evaporates quickly, leaving the scent of the perfume on the skin.
In the field of entomology, ethyl acetate is an effective asphyxiant for use in insect collecting and study. In a killing jar charged with ethyl acetate, the vapors will kill the collected insect quickly without destroying it. Because it is not hygroscopic, ethyl acetate also keeps the insect soft enough to allow proper mounting suitable for a collection.
In the laboratory, mixtures containing ethyl acetate are commonly used in column chromatography and extractions. Ethyl acetate is rarely selected as a reaction solvent because it is prone to hydrolysis, transesterification, and condensations.
Occurrence in winesEdit
Ethyl acetate is the most common ester in wine, being the product of the most common volatile organic acid – acetic acid, and the ethyl alcohol generated during the fermentation. The aroma of ethyl acetate is most vivid in younger wines and contributes towards the general perception of "fruitiness" in the wine. Sensitivity varies, with most people having a perception threshold around 120 mg/L. Excessive amounts of ethyl acetate are considered a wine fault.
Ethyl acetate is only weakly Lewis basic. It forms 1:1 adducts with I2, phenol, and bis(hexafloroacetylacetonato)copper(II).
Ethyl acetate hydrolyses to give acetic acid and ethanol. Bases accelerate the hydrolysis, which is subject to the Fischer equilibrium mentioned above. In the laboratory, and usually for illustrative purposes only, ethyl esters are typically hydrolyzed in a two-step process starting with a stoichiometric amount of a strong base, such as sodium hydroxide. This reaction gives ethanol and sodium acetate, which is unreactive toward ethanol:
- CH3CO2C2H5 + NaOH → C2H5OH + CH3CO2Na
Overexposure to ethyl acetate may cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Severe overexposure may cause weakness, drowsiness, and unconsciousness. Humans exposed to a concentration of 400 ppm in 1.4 mg/L ethyl acetate for a short time were affected by nose and throat irritation. Ethyl acetate is an irritant of the conjunctiva and mucous membrane of the respiratory tract. Animal experiments have shown that, at very high concentrations, the ester has central nervous system depressant and lethal effects; at concentrations of 20,000 to 43,000 ppm (2.0–4.3%), there may be pulmonary edema with hemorrhages, symptoms of central nervous system depression, secondary anemia and liver damage. In humans, concentrations of 400 ppm cause irritation of the nose and pharynx; cases have also been known of irritation of the conjunctiva with temporary opacity of the cornea. In rare cases exposure may cause sensitization of the mucous membrane and eruptions of the skin. The irritant effect of ethyl acetate is weaker than that of propyl acetate or butyl acetate.
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- International Chemical Safety Cards
- Material safety data (MSDS) for ethyl acetate
- National Pollutant Inventory – Ethyl acetate fact sheet
- Ethyl Acetate: Molecule of the Month
- Purpose of Using Concentrated Sulfuric Acid in Esterification for Catalysis
- Basic facts and contact SEKAB  SEKAB ethyl acetate
- A Techno Commercial Profile of Ethyl Acetate in India
- Calculation of vapor pressure, liquid density, dynamic liquid viscosity, surface tension of ethyl acetate