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Valeric acid, or pentanoic acid, is a straight-chain alkyl carboxylic acid with the chemical formula CH3(CH2)3COOH. Like other low-molecular-weight carboxylic acids, it has a very unpleasant odor similar to that of dirty socks. It is found naturally in the perennial flowering plant valerian (Valeriana officinalis), from which it gets its name. Its primary use is in the synthesis of its esters. Volatile esters of valeric acid tend to have pleasant odors and are used in perfumes and cosmetics. Ethyl valerate and pentyl valerate are used as food additives because of their fruity flavors.
Valeric acid can cause irritation to humans if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes, but otherwise causes little harm because it tends not to vapourise at room temperature unless it is in its pure glacial form. It is, however, toxic to aquatic life and so should not be disposed of into drains without first diluting the acidic solution.
Valerian root has a long history of use as an herbal sedative/hypnotic.
Valeric acid, if applied directly, has been claimed to be an effective treatment for acne, as yet without support from peer reviewed trials.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Valeric_acid". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|