Some carboxylic acids occur free in nature, including formic acid and acetic acid – the two simplest – and citric, lactic, malic, and tartaric acids. These, and others including benzoic, oxalic, and salicylic acids, are found also as their salts and esters. Many of the fatty acids, including oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids, occur in oils and fats as esters of glycerol.
Carboxylic acids are made by hydrolysis of esters, acid anhydrides, or acid chlorides, or by oxidation of aldehydes or primary alcohols.
Carboxylic acids are generally weak acids, the exact strength depending on the electronegativity of the group R, and so are often used with their salts as buffers. Many derivatives of carboxylic acids are important in nature or chemical synthesis: they include acid anhydrides, acid chlorides, amides, esters, nitriles, and peroxyacids.
Related entries• amino acids
• dicarboxylic acid
• nucleic acids
Related category• ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
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