StructureGlycolic acid
CAS No. 79-14-1
EC No. 201-180-5
Synonyms Glycolic Acid; Hydroxyacetic Acid; Aceticacid,hydroxy-; acidehydroxyacetique; hydroxyaceticacid; glycolic; AHA

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is the smallest α-hydroxy acid (AHA). This colorless, odorless, and hygroscopic crystalline solid is highly soluble in water. A water solution form is also available. Glycolic acid is slightly stronger than acetic acid due to the electron-withdrawing power of the terminal hydroxyl group. The carboxylate group can coordinate to metal ions forming coordination complexes. Of particular note are the complexes with Pb2+ and Cu2+ which are significantly stronger than complexes with other carboxylic acids.

This indicates that the hydroxyl group is involved in complex formation, possibly with the loss of its proton.


  • Glycolic acid is used in the textile industry as a dyeing and tanning agent, in food processing as a flavoring agent and as a preservative, and in the pharmaceutical industry as a skin care agent.
  • It is also used in adhesives and plastics. Glycolic acid is often included into emulsion polymers, solvents and additives for ink and paint in order to improve flow properties and impart gloss.
  • It is used in surface treatment products that increase the coefficient of friction on tile flooring. It is the active ingredient in the household cleaning liquid Pine-Sol.


Shelf Life

Under proper storage conditions, the shelf life is 24 months.

Health & Safety

Detailed information on the product described can be found in our relevant Health and Safety Information (Material Safety Data Sheet).