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Carboxylic Acids

Biological Importance, Industrial Importance

Carboxylic acids are chemical compounds that contain a carboxyl group, which is -COOH. The carboxyl group is attached to another hydrogen atom or to one end of a larger molecule. Examples include formic acid, which is produced by some ants and causes their bites to sting. (In fact, the scientific name for ants, Formica, is what gives formic acid its name.) Another example is acetic acid, which is found in vinegar. Many carboxylic acids dissolve in water. Solutions of many carboxylic acids have a sour taste to them, a characteristic of many acids. Carboxylic acids also react with alkalis, or bases. Generally, however, carboxylic acids are not as chemically active as the non-organic mineral acids such as hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid.

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