Vinegar is a household essential often used for cooking, and it even helps unclog sinks. What chemical substance makes vinegar smell the way it does? Vinegar is actually a solution that is made of 4-8% of acetic acid that is dissolved in water and other substances that give vinegar its flavor depending on its type.
Acetic acid, also known as ethanoic acid and methanecarboxylic acid, is a colorless liquid that has a strong and distinct pungent and sour smell. Its chemical formula is C2H4O2: it has two carbon (C) atoms, four hydrogen (H) atoms and two oxygen (O) atoms. Because it has a carbon in its chemical formula, it is an organic compound. Its chemical formula can be written multiple ways, as shown here: