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Formic acid is a pungent-smelling substance which is colorless and corrosive. It is used in various day to day activities, such as dyeing and finishing in textile industries and tanneries. It is used to kill tracheal and varroa mites in beehives and is also a preservative, especially for livestock food such as hay. Formic acid is irritating to the eyes, skin and mucous membrane and it should be handled with care.
Formic acid (also called methanoic acid) is the simplest carboxylic acid. Its chemical formula is HCOOH or HCO2H. It is an important intermediate in chemical synthesis and occurs naturally, most notably in ant venom. In fact, its name comes from the Latin word for ant, formica, referring to its early isolation by the distillation of ant bodies. Esters, salts, and the anion derived from formic acid are referred to as formates.
Formic acid is a colorless liquid having a highly pungent, penetrating odor at room temperature. It is miscible with water and most polar organic solvents and is somewhat soluble in hydrocarbons. In hydrocarbons and in the vapor phase, it consists of hydrogen-bonded dimers rather than individual molecules. Owing to its tendency to hydrogen-bond, gaseous formic acid does not obey the ideal gas law. Solid formic acid (two polymorphs) consists of an effectively endless network of hydrogen-bonded formic acid molecules. This relatively complicated compound also forms a low-boiling azeotrope with water (22.4%) and liquid formic acid also tends to supercool.