Ethyl formate

January 09, 2018
I’m tasty, perilous, and astronomical.
What molecule am I?
Image of Ethyl formate 3D Image of Ethyl formate

Ethyl formate is a simple aliphatic ester that is full of benefits and concerns. It’s a clear, slightly oily liquid with a pleasant, rumlike odor and the flavor of raspberries.

The ester occurs in many food substances, including fruits, coffee, tea, and grains. The synthetic product is often used as a flavoring agent in lemonade and artificial alcoholic beverages. It is used industrially as a solvent and as a fungicide and larvicide in processed foods such as dried fruits and cereals.

In its pure form, ethyl formate has several dangerous properties, as shown in the hazard information box (a new Molecule of the Week feature in 2018—Ed.).

In 2009, researchers at Cornell University and the University of Cologne detected ethyl formate in outer space—specifically, in the Sagittarius B2 dust cloud at the center of the Milky Way. Four years later, scientists in Spain and France confirmed its existence, this time in the Orion constellation. Discoveries of this and many other organic molecules in space give some researchers hope that extraterrestrial life can exist.

Ethyl formate hazard information

GHS* classification: flammable liquids, category 2
H225—Highly flammable liquid and vaporChemical Safety Flammable Warning
GHS classification: acute toxicity, oral and inhalation, category 4
H302/H332—Harmful if swallowed or if inhaledChemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: eye irritation, category 2A
H319—Causes serious eye irritationChemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: specific target organ toxicity—single exposure, category 3, respiratory system
H335—May cause respiratory irritationChemical Safety Warning

*Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. Explanation of pictograms.

Ethyl formate fast facts

CAS Reg. No.109-94-4
Molar mass74.08 g/mol 
AppearanceColorless liquid 
Boiling point54 ºC
Water solubility88 g/L
Chemical Abstract Service - a division of ACS

Learn more about this molecule from CAS, the most authoritative and comprehensive source for chemical information.

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