Solvent for nitrocellulose, acetylcellulose, and many resins and oils; manufacture of artificial leather.
(Very similar to those of methyl alcohol, which constitutes 20% of commercial grade.) Inhalation causes headache, fatigue, and drowsiness; high concentrations can produce central nervous system depression and optic nerve damage. Liquid irritates eyes and may cause defatting and cracking of skin. Ingestion causes headache, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue; may cause severe eye damage.
Methanol in methyl acetate can be detected by measuring its solubility in water. At 20o, the solubility of methyl acetate in water is ca 35g per 100mL, but 1% MeOH confers complete miscibility. Methanol can be removed by conversion to methyl acetate, by refluxing for 6hours with acetic anhydride (85mL/L), followed by fractional distillation. Acidic impurities can be removed by shaking with anhydrous K2CO3 and distilling. An alternative treatment is with acetyl chloride, followed by washing with concentrated NaCl and drying with CaO or MgSO4. (Solid CaCl2 cannot be used because it forms a crystalline addition compound.) Distillation from copper stearate destroys peroxides. Free alcohol or acid can be eliminated from methyl acetate by shaking with strong aqueous Na2CO3 or K2CO3 (three times), then with aqueous 50% CaCl2 (three times), saturated aqueous NaCl (twice), drying with K2CO3 and distilling it from P2O5. [Beilstein 2 IV 122.]
Behavior in Fire: Vapor is heavier than air and may travel a considerable distance to a source of ignition and flash back.
Air & Water Reactions
Highly flammable. Water soluble.
A clear colorless liquid with a fragrant odor. Moderately toxic. Flash point 14°F. Vapors heavier than air.
Methyl acetate presents a fire or explosion hazard when exposed to strong oxidizing agents. Emits irritating fumes and acrid smoke when heated to decomposition, [Lewis, 3rd ed., 1993, p. 826]. Methyl acetate reactivity is consistent with other compounds of the ester group.
colourless liquid with a pleasant odour