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Topic: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?  (Read 4951 times)

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Offline lespaul

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Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« on: August 20, 2011, 02:28:32 PM »
I got a silly question:

- I know acetic acid (or vinegar) is volatile, we all can smell it. But why can I smell it at room temperature (25C) since its boiling point is about 118C (244F)?

I know household vinegar is only about 3-5%, but still why and I able to smell it at such a low temp?

Offline Borek

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Re: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2011, 04:47:16 PM »
What is the boiling point definition?
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Offline lespaul

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Re: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2011, 07:45:51 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_point

In order for it to reach my nose and be detected  - acetic acid it needs to leave the liquid phase and into the vapor phase (perhaps not all, but at least some molecules).

Offline lespaul

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Re: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2011, 10:05:34 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_point

In order for acetic acid to reach my nose it needs to leave the liquid and into the vapor phase (perhaps not all, but at least some molecules).

Offline Borek

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Re: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2011, 04:28:11 AM »
I didn't ask for the link. State the definition. It is just a few words, and if stated correctly, it should point you in the right direction.
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Offline lespaul

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Re: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2011, 11:32:40 AM »
"The boiling point is the temperature at which the vapor pressure of a liquid equals the external pressure surrounding the liquid."

Is still dont understand how it can volatilize (partly) at such a low temp at room temp and STP.

Offline Borek

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Re: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2011, 05:19:35 PM »
"The boiling point is the temperature at which the vapor pressure of a liquid equals the external pressure surrounding the liquid."

Don't you think the definition implies some vapor pressure at lower temperatures?
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Offline lespaul

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Re: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2011, 10:03:33 AM »
Yes.

Offline Borek

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Re: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2011, 03:27:02 PM »
Yes.

So if the vapor is present at lower temperatures, why are you surprised you can smell it?
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