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Author Topic: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?  (Read 4900 times)

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lespaul

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Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« on: August 20, 2011, 08:28:32 AM »

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?
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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, 10:47:16 AM »

What is the boiling point definition?
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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, 01:45:51 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).
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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, 04:05:34 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).
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Borek

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Re: Why can I smell acetic acid at room temp if its bp is 118C?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2011, 10:28:11 PM »

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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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, 05:32:40 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.
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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, 11:19:35 AM »

"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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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, 04:03:33 AM »

Yes.
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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, 09:27:02 AM »

Yes.

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