Monochloroacetic acid (MCAA), also known as chloroacetic acid, is an essential industrial chemical with a wide range of applications. Its chemical formula is C2H3ClO2, and it is a colorless, crystalline solid with a pungent odor. MCAA is a versatile chemical used in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and the production of various organic compounds.

Chemical Properties and Production

Monochloroacetic acid is produced by the chlorination of acetic acid. This process involves the substitution of a chlorine atom for a hydrogen atom in the acetic acid molecule. The production can be carried out using different methods, including direct chlorination and hydrolysis of trichloroethylene.

Chemical Properties:

Key Features and Benefits

  1. Versatility: MCAA is a key intermediate in the production of various chemical compounds. Its reactive nature makes it suitable for numerous chemical reactions.
  2. Reactivity: The presence of both a carboxylic acid group and a chlorine atom makes MCAA highly reactive, allowing it to participate in substitution and addition reactions.
  3. Solubility: Its high solubility in water and organic solvents makes it easy to handle and use in different industrial processes.

Applications of Monochloroacetic Acid

  1. Pharmaceuticals: MCAA is used in the synthesis of various pharmaceutical products, including the production of drugs like ibuprofen, caffeine, and vitamins.
  2. Agrochemicals: It is a critical intermediate in the manufacture of herbicides, pesticides, and plant growth regulators. Notably, it is used to produce glyphosate, a widely used herbicide.
  3. Cosmetics and Personal Care: MCAA is used in the production of carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), which is a thickener and stabilizer in cosmetics and personal care products.
  4. Dyes and Pigments: It serves as a precursor in the synthesis of indigo dye, which is used in the textile industry.
  5. Food Industry: MCAA is involved in the production of carboxymethyl starch, a food additive used as a thickening agent.

Safety and Handling

Monochloroacetic acid is a hazardous material and must be handled with care. It is corrosive and can cause severe burns upon contact with skin or eyes. Inhalation or ingestion can lead to serious health issues, including respiratory problems and gastrointestinal distress. Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, goggles, and respirators should be worn when handling MCAA.

Safety Guidelines:

Environmental Impact

MCAA is toxic to aquatic life and can cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. Therefore, it is crucial to manage its disposal carefully and comply with environmental regulations to minimize its impact.

Industry Recognition and Standards

Monochloroacetic acid complies with various industry standards and regulations, including those set by REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) and other international chemical safety guidelines. This compliance ensures its safe use and handling in industrial applications.


Monochloroacetic acid is a vital chemical with diverse applications across multiple industries. Its reactivity and versatility make it an invaluable intermediate in the synthesis of numerous products. However, due to its hazardous nature, proper safety measures and handling procedures are essential to ensure its safe use.

For more detailed information on MCAA, you can visit the following websites:

By understanding the properties, applications, and safety measures associated with MCAA, industries can leverage its benefits while ensuring compliance with safety and environmental standards.

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