Salicylic acid is a colorless, crystalline organic carboxylic acid. It is usually prepared by Kolbe synthesis (aka Kolbe-Schmitt reaction). Salicylic acid functions as a plant hormone.
Salicylic acid is toxic if ingested in large quantities, but in small quantities is used as a food preservative and antiseptic in toothpaste. The carboxyl group (?COOH) can react with alcohols, forming several useful esters. The ester with methanol is methyl salicylate, also known by the name oil of wintergreen. The hydroxyl group (?OH) can be acetylated to form acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). Salicylic acid can also trap oxygen (O2) and initiate free radical reactions.
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