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A brown or colorless aqueous solution containing 3-6% Acetic acid. Vinegar occurs naturally as a mold-induced fermentation product of malt, barley, cider, wine or fruit juice. Commercially, it is used primarily in food products and as household cleaner for windows, mirrors and fish tanks. Vinegar acts as a preservative in water-based glues (paste and animal) but also decreases pH and lowers viscosity (Ackroyd 1996). As a textile mordant, white, or colorless, vinegar is used in red dyebaths; it can induce color changes in acid sensitive dyes. Vinegar is used on leather as an astringent to close the pores before tooling. The weak acid solution has a deflocculating effect on clay that allows it to be used for minor repairs of cracks on dry pots and models (Fournier 1996). It has also been used to thin watercolor pigments and to slow the setting of plaster of Paris.

Synonyms and Related Terms

white vinegar; pyroligneous acid; distilled vinegar; acetic acid solution; Essig (Deut.); vinagre (Esp., Port.); vinaigre (Fr.); eddik (Nor.); azijn (Ned.); ocet (Pol.); kis (Slov.); vinäger (Sven.)


  • Nonflammable.
  • Skin contact can cause irritation.
  • Corrodes some metals such as copper.
  • Fisher Scientific: SDS

Resources and Citations

  • Paul Ackroyd "Glue-Paste Lining of Paintings: An Evaluation of Some Additive Materials" ICOM Edinburgh 1996 p.231-238.
  • R. Fournier, Illustrated Dictionary of Practical Pottery, Chilton Book Company, Radnor, PA, 1996.
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 7
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Palmy Weigle, Ancient Dyes for Modern Weavers, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1974
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Website: - natural cleaners
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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