Ethyl acetate is an organic compound that is a clear liquid. This compound represents the ester of ethanol, known as pure alcohol, and acetic acid. This colorless liquid has a noticeable sweet smell, one typically described as a fruity aroma. Ethyl acetate is a solvent, meaning it is a substance that is used to dissolve another substance. This compound is slightly soluble in water and soluble in other solvents, such as alcohol, acetone, and chloroform.
As a solvent, ethyl acetate has many uses across industries. It is a common ingredient in lacquers, varnishes, and thinners that coat surfaces. In pharmaceuticals, ethyl acetate is an ingredient in extractants that concentrate and purify antibiotics. It also is used to create flexible packaging, such as polyester films and aluminum foil. Ethyl acetate can also be found as an ingredient in a variety of products, including adhesives, cleaning fluids, inks, artificial leather, and photographic film. It is used in electronics, including video and audio tapes, as a cleaning solvent. The demand for ethyl acetate is expected to grow and expand across industries as well. Paints, foils, and electronics are a few of the industries that continue to embrace ethyl acetate for its properties as a solvent.
Ethyl acetate is an appealing solvent across industries for a number of reasons. It is relatively inexpensive to produce. The ingredient has low toxicity as well. Further, ethyl acetate has a pleasant aroma.
The Food and Drug Administration has deemed ethyl acetate safe to use as a synthetic flavoring substance and adjuvant, placing it on its Generally Recognized As Safe list. Moreover, the FDA has approved it to be used as a secondary food additive as a solvent. Thus, ethyl alcohol also has a place in the food industry, primarily serving as an artificial flavor for confections, ice cream, and cakes. Ethyl acetate’s use as a solvent in food focuses on creating decaffeinated coffee. In a process that can take up to 10 hours, coffee beans are rinsed with an ethyl acetate solution to remove caffeine from them. It is also a common ester in wines, helping give wines a fruity flavor. Too much ethyl acetate can diminish the quality of the wine, although a small amount of the ingredient can give wine a distinct flavor.
In the beauty and personal care industries, ethyl acetate is also used for its properties as a solvent. It can most commonly be found in nail polish removers; as a solvent, ethyl acetate can effectively thin and remove nail polish. Thus, ethyl acetate is an important ingredient in nail care, and nail polish removers in salons worldwide often include this important and effective ingredient.
Ethyl acetate is also used in perfumes for several purposes. First, it can contribute to the perfume’s aroma thanks to its sweet, fruity smell. In addition, ethyl acetate can evaporate on the skin, which allows the perfume’s fragrance to stay on the skin without any unappealing residue. Ethyl acetate is also a common ingredient in mascara and tooth-whitening products.
In addition to being included on the FDA’s GRAS list, ethyl alcohol was also assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. This panel determined that ethyl alcohol is safe to use in cosmetic products. The ingredient was most recently reviewed and approved by the CIR Expert Panel in 2006.
In addition to FDA and CIR Expert Panel approval, ethyl acetate has low toxicity as indicated by a number of research studies. When reactions do exist, they are typically minor issues, such as eye or skin irritation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that exposure to high concentrations (400 ppm or higher) of ethyl acetate can result in upper respiratory tract irritation as well. However, such high concentrations are not used in beauty products. Discontinuing use of the ethyl-acetate-based product can typically eliminate any negative side effects. The majority of users will not experience a reaction when using a beauty or personal care product containing ethyl acetate, thus explaining its FDA and CIR Expert Panel approval.
Ethyl alcohol is a highly effective solvent, which makes it a popular ingredient across industries. In the beauty and personal care industry, it is a particularly popular ingredient in nail care, one that anyone who enjoys manicures and pedicures has used.