Benzoic acid C7H6O2 (or C6H5COOH), is a colorless crystalline solid and a simple aromatic carboxylic acid. Today, benzoic acid is produced by oxidation of toluene with air, which has displaced dichromate and nitric acid oxidation processes.
Benzoic acid and its derivatives are widely distributed in nature. Gum benzoin contains from 12–18% benzoic acid in free and esterified forms. Other natural products containing benzoic acid are the bark, foliage, fruits, and seeds of various plants, including cherries and prunes. Hippuric acid, found in the urine of herbivores, is a glycine derivative of benzoic acid.
Salts of benzoic acid are used as food preservatives and benzoic acid is an important precursor for the industrial synthesis of many other organic substances. The salts and esters of benzoic acid are known as benzoates. Benzoic acid is used in a wide range of applications. It is sold in both liquid (molten) and flake form in ultra-pure, high-purity and technical grades. Benzoic acid and its sodium and potassium salts have been extensively used for years as an effective preservative to control microbial growth, such as yeast, bacteria, mold and fungi, in various applications. Any entrepreneur venture into this field will be successful.