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The Importance of Esters

– Houston, TX

Organic Chemistry is a branch of chemistry that focuses on organic compounds. Organic chemistry is important because it studies compounds that occur naturally and can be used in our daily lives. One example of a compound we use in our daily lives is an ester.


What is an Ester?

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An ester is an organic chemical compound and an important functional group formed through a reaction between a carboxylic acid and an alcohol. Esters can be naturally-derived or manufactured and are found everywhere in our daily lives because of their contributions to food, beauty and hygiene products, and clothing.


Food

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Esters are known for their pleasant tastes and smells, meaning they are an essential part of the foods we eat. Esters are naturally found in a multitude of fruits – including apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, pineapples, and strawberries – giving them each a unique smell and flavor. Scientists can replicate these naturally occurring esters in labs, which are then used to flavor artificial foods such as candy and gum.


Beauty and Hygiene

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Esters are key ingredients in many beauty and hygiene products because of their unique characteristics. Perfumes are a key example of the varied scents of esters such as the strong scents of roses, lavender, and coconut. Esters are also common in lotions because of their hydrating and softening effect on skin without leaving an oily residue. Esters also have stabilizing properties that help keep water and oils combined in many products. This stabilization in addition to pleasant scent makes esters important in soap making.


Clothing

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In contrast to their good scent and flavor, esters are widely used in clothing. Polyester is a type of polymer made of chains of esters and is most well known for its use in polyester fabric. Polyester is lightweight, easy to clean, and cheap which makes it a popular and accessible type of fabric.


Esters have an unexpectedly wide range of uses in products. From food to hygiene to fabrics, esters’ involvement in many everyday items is a prime example of how chemistry is essential to our daily lives. This is only one of the many more examples of science in daily life; so as always, stay curious!


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