Uses of Esters


Esters have no free OH groups and so they tend to be insoluble in water. However, they are very good solvents for polar organic compounds, such as lacquers, printing ink, polystyrene and cement, as well as being used in the pharmaceutical industry.


Plasticizers are added to plastics to make themselves better plastics and more flexible. Loss of these additives over time means they become brittle. Esters of benzene and 1,2 dicarboxylic acid are used in PVC.

Food flavourings

Esters have fruity smells and natural fruit flavours are mixtures of esters and carboxylic acids. For example:

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Author: Adam Hughes (document modification date: 18th May 2003)©

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