Talk:Formic acid

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Former good articleFormic acid was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
December 8, 2005Good article nomineeListed
October 7, 2007Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article

UV cut off[edit]

What is the UV cut off value of formic acid?


The historic production of Fromic acid isn't discussed. According to everything I've read, FA is used in rubber production. However, I doubt they were turning over ant-hills to produce the acid to make tons of rubber between 1770-1855... so how were they getting the acid at that point?
~ender 2006-11-17 8:40:AM MST


Is it not more normal for a carboxylic acid group to be written out in full i.e. COOH, leaving the formula as HCOOH in the first paragraph?

Yes it is, but that is also correct. Conrad.Irwin 10:19, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Formic Anhydride?[edit]

From the article:

"Until very recently, all attempts to form either of these derivatives have resulted in carbon monoxide instead. It has now been shown that the anhydride may be produced by reaction of formyl fluoride with sodium formate at −78°C, and the chloride by passing HCl into a solution of 1-formimidazole in monochloromethane at −60°"

I don't understand how you get anything BUT Carbon Monoxide from removing H2O from Formic Acid, as HCOOH minus HOH equals CO.Joeylawn 20:40, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

HCOOH + HCOOH -> HCO-O-COH + H2O. --Itub 10:04, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Distillation of ant bodies?[edit]

Distillation is the chemical separation of substances... if scientists distilled ant bodies in order to isolate formic acid, as this article says, does that mean that the scientists literally dissolved ants? --Luigifan 16:18, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

The answer depends on who did the distillation, but the easiest and most obvious way to get the formic acid would be to put the ants directly into the distillation apparatus and start heating. Lots of chemicals were originally isolated in this manner. I think it's easier to synthesize formic acid than to extract it from ants.--Smokefoot 18:19, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

GA sweeps review[edit]

This article was passed in December of 2005, in the early days of the GA program. The Good Article criteria have changed significantly since then, and unfortunately this article no longer meets them. Of critical importance is insufficient reference citations (with only two inline citations, that is not enough for an article of this size). The article reads reasonably well (good prose), and I don't see any major issues. Some of the section headers could be a little more descriptive, like changing 'properties' --> 'chemical properties' (which is more or less the standard that I see with other chemistry articles). 'Production' --> 'synthesis'. The table in the safety section is of rather poor quality -- I think it could be improved by adding border lines.

The article can be renominated at WP:GAN once it meets the GA criteria. Dr. Cash 23:52, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

The style guide for chemicals is in the midst of changes so I would hesitate to comment on the section as yet. Production usually refers to an industrial scale activity, i.e. a few tons, while synthesis would be more appropriate for a few grams or miligrams. The properties section discusses things like polarity and hydrogen bonding, which lead to physical properties like boiling point. So I think that section header is not inaccurate. --Rifleman 82 02:12, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Ants and formic acid[edit]

As of February 2008, the article only mentions that formic acid is contained in (ant) stings and bites. Do ants themselves use the acid for other purposes, similar to how we preserve livestock feed? — Nahum Reduta [talk|contribs] 19:04, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Formic Acid in the Human Body[edit]

Since formic acid does occur naturally in the body, can we add something about its role in human functions? Does it arise in the body through the decomposition of oxalic acid into formic acid and carbon dioxide? —Preceding unsigned comment added by UMinventor (talkcontribs) 20:54, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Move proposal[edit]

I propose renaming this page to methanoic acid to abide by IUPAC systematic naming. Stifle (talk) 20:46, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Before we proceed, have you seen Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/Nomenclature? --Rifleman 82 (talk) 23:06, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I disagree - formic acid is a more common name in keeping with they style guidelines Tintint (talk) 16:54, 11 April 2010 (UTC)


I have immediately and without consultation changed the word inflammable to flammable. This is a safety issue, in my opinion, so I did not seek agreement. The word "inflammable" is quaint English but has no place in modern vernacular. I do not have the numerous citations to safety and health organizations who found the same thing. For those not familiar with the problem, "inflammable" means the same exact thing as "flammable" but because of the prefix "in-" is often mistaken for the negative of "flammable", that is: "not flammable". This mistake has led to many a fire or hazardous situation. If some Wiki-guru were to want some good karma, s/he would do a search of the word "inflammable" on Wiki and expunge it. (talk) 19:19, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

Correct. Good idea. --Wickey-nl (talk) 10:29, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
"The word "inflammable" is quaint English but has no place in modern vernacular" [citation needed]. Also, how could the original wording have lead to an accident? "Formic acid in 85% concentration is not (in)flammable". The only way I can see ignorance of the meaning of "inflammable" leading to a fire hazard would be if: 1) there was a fire, 2) the only liquid at hand was a large volume of formic acid, 3) someone looked up wikipedia to see if they could use the acid to extinguish the fire, 4) they thought that sentance was a weird double negative that meant the acid was flamamble, and so 5) failed to use the acid to extinguish the fire. All of which are so improbable that I can't see how the original wording could possibly be a safety issue. (And frankly, if somone is basing their fire-safety policy on Wikipedia, then they probably deserve to get burnt).Iapetus (talk) 11:45, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

No consensus to move. Vegaswikian (talk) 07:05, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Formic acidMethanoic acid — This article should be at the correct IUPAC name. (talk) 14:24, 30 January 2011 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's policy on article titles.


Any additional comments:
  • If the common name takes precedence over the IUPAC name here, why is the reverse true at aluminum? -- (talk) 16:09, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
    • Aluminium is a common name used throughout the world, except in the United States. -- Ed (Edgar181) 21:48, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
      • That's not true, in Canada it is called "Aluminum" (no extra i) (talk) 05:41, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Does somebody want to add any of this in?[edit]

I removed this from a page where it was not very relevant. I don't have time now, but if somebody wanted to look through this and see if there was anything that could be used in the article it would be great. Ryan Vesey (talk) 00:47, 2 June 2011 (UTC) "

Uses of Formic Acid[edit]

Steel pickling[edit]

Steel pickling is part of the finishing process in the production of certain steel products in which oxide and scale are removed from the surface of strip steel, steel wire, and other forms of steel, by dissolution in acid. A solution of either hydrochloric acid (HCl) or sulfuric acid is generally used to treat carbon steel products, while a combination of hydrofluoric and nitric Acids is often used for stainless steel.

As an organic acid, Formic Acid would be a very attractive replacement for Hydrochloric Acid (HCI) in the steel pickling process. Formic Acid has many advantages over HCI under this application, including: less iron would be lost from the steel surface, the final surface quality would be improved, corrosion inhibitors and neutralizing rinse process would be eliminated. In addition, Formic Acid is both bio-degradable and reusable and process water could be recycled more easily. The following diagrams depict the production and usage of Formic Acid in a 13,000 tpd steel plant.

Formic Acid Production in a Steel Plant[edit]

The following shows the integration of Mantra?s ERC system into a steel mill making 13,000 tpd of 16 gauge rolled steel; ERC is designed to take the CO2 from the steel plant and convert it into Formic Acid which is then used to replace the use of Hydrochloric Acid in pickling the hot-rolled steel. In the manufacturing process, iron ore is converted into steel which is poured into billets; these are later reheated and rolled into strip steel; as they are being rolled oxides form which must be removed to provide a clean surface. The finished steel strip goes on to make refrigerators, car panels or other steel products.

Formic Acid Use in a Steel Plant[edit]

Approximately 1/4 of the HCI produced in the U.S. is used for pickling steel (American Chemistry, 2003), consuming an estimated 5Mt/year.

Fuel cells[edit]

Another potentially lucrative market for formic acid is in Fuel Cells. In fuel cells, liquid fuels are indirectly combined with oxygen to form carbon dioxide and water, while generating electricity- a process known as electro-oxidation. The complementary nature of ERC and electro-oxidation makes it possible to use ERC in a regenerative fuel cell cycle, where CO2 is converted into a fuel that is consumed in a fuel cell to regenerate CO2.

The development of direct formic acid fuel cells (DFAFCs) is likely to be a significant commercially valuable use of formic acid. DFAFCs are gaining popularity over hydrogen and methanol based fuel cells because of their ease of refueling, efficiency, and safety. DFAFCs are currently being tested by major producers of portable electronics in phones, laptops and computers. With continued development, there is potential for DFAFCs to challenge traditional batteries as power sources for mobile electronic devices with large scale applications expected to follow.

Fuel Additive[edit]

In addition to the production of formic acid, the ERC process can be adapted to produce ammonium formate—a potential fuel additive currently being tested in Europe and Japan. This chemical compound shows great promise in reducing NOx emissions when added to diesel fuel- potentially representing yet another secondary market for the electroreduction of carbon dioxide."

In honey?[edit]

Is formic acid a major component of honey? -- (talk) 01:42, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

No. I have responded to your question in greater detail on the honey talk page. Zaereth (talk) 23:02, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Disinfectant/environmental surface sanitizer[edit]

In Europe (or, more specifically, in Germany), formic acid is heavily used as surface disinfectant in the agricultural sector. Even in comparatively low concentrations (0.5—2.0%), it rapidly destroys pretty much everything save endospores, worm eggs and prions (bacteria including mycobacteria, which normaly are acid-resistant, most if not all viruses, fungi, yeasts, molds etc.). Worth mentioning? Cheers,-- (talk) 02:39, 13 September 2012 (UTC)

If you have reliable sources, which are independent then it would be good to add it! L.tak (talk) 02:41, 13 September 2012 (UTC)

Bee/wasp sting mess[edit]

The intro links to the article on bee stings, but bee venom is apitoxin, and the apitoxin article makes no mention of formic acid. I suppose formic acid is more likely to be found in wasp stings, wasps and ants being closely related. But "wasp sting" currently redirects to the bee sting article, which to me seems questionable despite claims there that some erroneously refer to wasp stings as "bee stings". This is such a complicated mess outside my expertise that I don't dare touch it, but I wish someone more knowledgeable would rectify or clarify the relationships between these topics (articles). -Uusijani (talk) 16:37, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

PIN for Formic Acid is Methanoic Acid - or not?[edit]

Not clear at present - is the PIN (Preferred IUPAC Name) for "Formic Acid" now "Methanoic Acid"? - or not - in any case - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 22:55, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

CO as an anhydride?[edit]

I'm figuring that an anhydride is an acid without H2O in it (for example, SO3 is the anhydride of sulfuric acid, and HPO3 is the anhydride of phosphoric acid). If that's true, than how come CO isn't listed as the anhydride of formic acid? DudeWithAFeud (talk) 01:17, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

Seems logical to think of CO as the anhydride of formic acid (FA). Its an insight that does not need to go into the article IMHO, otherwise these articles get filled with all of our own idiosyncracies. Dehydration of FA with sulfuric is a way to generate CO as I reacall. There is also formic anhydride, to confuse things even more. FA is made by hydration of CO via methyl formate, so the reaction is reversible. --Smokefoot (talk) 22:46, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

Decomposition re-edit[edit]

The so called 'high' Hydrogen content of 55 g/L is not really high compared with methanol at 71 g/L or other hydrogen storage like methane, ammonia etc.

GerGroeneveld (talk) 06:11, 1 February 2016 (UTC)