Acetic acid is a well-developed intermediate used in several successful commercial chemical processes. Various applications for acetic acid derivatives include latex emulsion resins for paints, adhesives, textile finishing agents, paper coatings, cellulose acetate fibers, cigarette filter tow, and cellulosic plastics. This heavily used chemical also found in ocean water, rain, oilfield brines, and at trace concentrations in many plant and animal liquids. It is central to all biological energy pathways. In its pure form, acetic acid is corrosive and characterized by its sharp odor, burning taste, and harmful blistering properties.
Other names for acetic acid include glacial acetic acid, ethanoic acid, ethylic acid, methanecarboxylic acid, and vinegar acid.
The intentionally manufactured acetic acid is termed virgin acid; that recovered from other processing is termed recovered, although it is often of equal quality to virgin acid if properly purified. Recovered acetic acid represents a major source of acetic acid. In many processes, this recovered acid can usually be substituted for virgin production.