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Formic Acid

Combining excellent efficiency with high environmental compatibility, formic acid scores high in countless applications.

Bees, airline passengers, oil rig operators and pigs don’t have much in common but there’s one thing they share: they all benefit from formic acid.

BASF is a leading global supplier of Formic Acid with production facilities in Europe (Germany), Asia (China) and North America (USA)

CAS No.: 64-18-6


FORMIC ACID: This acidic all-rounder is the stuff innovations are made of. It is appreciated in a great variety of applications.

Formic acid has applications in these areas:

  • Households: descaling, and cleaning of bathroom surfaces
  • Industrial cleaning: cleaning and descaling of equipment and tanks (e.g., in breweries), corrosion removal
  • Others: wine casks, dairies

In bathroom cleaners, for example, formic acid combines the properties of an efficient descaling agent with those of a biodegradable biocide.

BASF sells formic acid as a biocide in Europe under the Protectol® FM brand. BASF has submitted a comprehensive file for registering formic acid as a biocide according to the European Biocidal Product Directive (BPD).

Formic acid has applications in these areas:

  • Feed & drinking water: In animal feed additives, formic acid is used as a growth promoter; it acts positively on the gut flora of animals (poultry, swine, and cattle), improves feed efficiency and average daily weight gain, and reduces pathogen-caused diseases in the intestines.
  • Preservation & acidification of feed mixes: Formic acid has antibacterial effects, which are used to preserve and acidify feeds. Organic acids, including formic are often blended in mixtures for use as alternatives to antibiotics
  • Grass silage: Prevention of bacteria and mold (lower activity than propionic acid) growth avoids spoilage in open storage structures
  • Fish Silage: Formic Acid helps helps to speed up of break down of fish proteins while preventing bacterial spoilage.

Formic Acid is used in textile processing to control the pH of waste-water
(neutralization of the pH and the excess NaOH from manufacturing process).

Formic acid is used in several steps of leather processing. Methods for processing leather involve steps of preparing skins for tanning, optionally dyeing the leather and finishing if required.

One of the traditional uses of formic acid is the coagulation of natural rubber, which is produced primarily in south-east Asia. Latex milk is tapped from rubber trees and is mixed with formic acid to produce the coagulated rubber that is further processed into tires and numerous other rubber products.

Formic acid is also a valuable building block for formate salts. These salts are used in drilling fluids and deicing agents.

  • Drilling Fluid:
    Formic acid is the starting material for the production of potassium formate and cesium formate. When dissolved in water, these formate salts give a solution (formate brines). In the oil and gas industry, formate brines are the main ingredients of drilling and completion fluids used for reservoir sections in high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) drilling.

  • Deicing Agent:
    When temperatures during winter go below zero degree Celsius and water starts freezing, an efficient and fast working deicing agent is needed to ensure safe transportation. Formic acid as formate de-icer is the high performance deicer of choice for commercial and residential deicing. Potassium formate, a salt of formic acid, is an alternative to potassium acetate for use on airport runways, roadways and bridges

  • Agricultural Biocides
  • Flue Gas desulfurization
  • Pretreatment for the conversion of sugarcane bagasse to bioethanol
  • Wood adhesive
  • Paper Industry
  • Steep Pickling
  • Paint Remover
  • Process Chemical (e.g. adjustment of pH)
  • Epoxidation of soybean oils: Plasticizers
  • Fuell Cell