benzoic acid bĕnzō´ĭk [key], C 6H 5CO 2H, crystalline solid organic acid that melts at 122°C and boils at 249°C. It is the simplest aromatic carboxylic acid (see aryl group and carboxyl group ). In addition to being synthesized from a variety of organic compounds (e.g., benzyl alcohol, benzaldehyde, toluene, and phthalic acid), it may be obtained from resins, notably gum benzoin . It is used largely for making its salts and esters, most notably sodium benzoate, which is widely used as a preservative in foods and beverages and as a mild antiseptic in mouthwashes and toothpastes.
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