1. Soap making. The alkyl alkanoates of higher fatty acids like palmitic, stearic or oleic acids are used in the process of soap making. The reaction is known as saponification.
The saponification process can be represented generally for fats and oils which contain one or more ester groups.
2. Flavoring and perfuming agents. Esters or alkanoates ‘have characteristic odours and are therefore used in the manufacture of artificial flavouring and perfuming agents (see table 48.1 for details).
3. As plasticizers. Many esters are used as plasticizers i.e., substances which are added to thermoplastics to soften them so as to be reused. Some common examples are, di-n butyl pthalate, triceryl phosphate, etc.
4. As solvents. Esters are used as solvents due to their ability to dissolve various greases
- Methyl acetate is used as solvents for many oils and resins.
- Ethyl acetate is used as extraction solvent in food processing and pharmaceutical industry.
- Butyl acetate is used as solvent for inks and as a cleaning liquid for surfaces.