What is the Functional Group of Carboxylic Acid

Learn about the unique functional group of carboxylic acids and their properties, applications, and examples. Discover the world of organic chemistry!

The Structure of Carboxylic Acid

Carboxylic acids are organic compounds that contain the functional group -COOH. The carboxyl group consists of a carbonyl group (C=O) attached to a hydroxyl group (-OH). This unique arrangement gives carboxylic acids their distinct properties.

Common Examples of Carboxylic Acids

Some common examples of carboxylic acids include acetic acid (found in vinegar), formic acid (found in ant stings), and citric acid (found in citrus fruits). These compounds play crucial roles in various biological processes and industrial applications.

Properties of Carboxylic Acids

  • Acidity: Carboxylic acids are acidic compounds due to the presence of the carboxyl group. They can donate a proton (H+) to form carboxylate ions.
  • Solubility: Carboxylic acids are soluble in water due to hydrogen bonding with water molecules.
  • Odor: Many carboxylic acids have strong, pungent odors, which contribute to their distinct smell.

Applications of Carboxylic Acids

Carboxylic acids are used in various industries, including food, pharmaceuticals, and polymers. For example, acetic acid is used in the production of vinegar and various chemicals, while citric acid is used as a flavoring agent and preservative in food products.

Case Study: Acetylsalicylic Acid (Aspirin)

One notable carboxylic acid is acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin. Aspirin is widely used as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medication due to its ability to inhibit the production of prostaglandins, which are responsible for pain and inflammation.


Carboxylic acids are essential organic compounds with diverse applications and properties. Understanding the structure and function of carboxylic acids is crucial for various scientific and industrial endeavors.

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