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Uses of Benzoic Acid

March 2, 2013

Introduction to uses of benzoic acid

Benzoic acid, chemical formula C6H5COOH (or C7H6O2) is an aromatic carboxylic acid derivative of benzene . It consists of a phenyl group with a carboxyl group. The salts and esters of benzoic acid are called benzoates. Benzoic acid forms colorless, shiny flakes or needle-shaped crystals. Although a weak acid, benzoic acid is only slightly soluble in water because of the presence of apolar benzene ring. At  About 370 ° C, benzoic acid decomposes slowly in benzene and carbon dioxide (CO2). Benzoic acid has an intense odor and is easily combustible. As a major component of the resin benzoin, benzoic acid is present in many incense mixtures of tree. In addition to this , benzoic acid is also found in fruits, such as plums, blueberries and cranberries


benzoic acid

Uses of benzoic acid

Benzoic acid is used in the manufacture of benzoic acid esters, used in the perfume industry..

In the food industry is benzoic acid (E 210) is used as a preservative especially in pickled food. Because of increased solubility it is rather  used for usual salts: sodium benzoate (E211), potassium benzoate (E 212), calcium benzoate (E 213) .

In the environmental it is used in monitoring pitfall traps thsat are filled with saturated benzoic acid to kill organisms such as insects and snails .

Benzoic acid is often used in perishable food such as in ketchup, sausage, mustard and other sauces, margarine, fish, salads and many other products as a preservative. The bacteriostatic and fungistatic effect is based on the inhibitory effect against enzymes that break down reactive oxygen species (catalase and peroxidase), which generates a hydrogen peroxide accumulation in the cells of microorganisms. This ultimately leads to their death. Benzoic acid in the human organism is harmless, since the accumulation is prevented by the conversion and retirement of the substance as hippuric acid.

Risk of benzoic acid

According to a British study published in 2007, benzoic acid promotes hyperactivity in children, specifically the disorder attention deficit. Also when contacted with eyes it leads to irritation. Benzoic acid  is highly flammables so due care need to be taken in handling it.


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