Raw material information

From fruits to plastics: The diverse applications of esters

Esters form a group of substances that are formed by the synthesis of an alcohol and an acid. This reaction takes place with the splitting off of water, it is called condensation. Depending on whether an organic carboxylic acid or an inorganic acid is used for the reaction, one speaks of organic or inorganic esters. The general reaction is called esterification or ester formation. They consist of a carboxyl group (COOH) and an alcohol group (OH), which are connected by an ester bond. This unique structure gives esters their characteristic properties.

One of the most remarkable properties of esters is their pleasant smell. In fact, many natural flavours and fragrances that we perceive on a daily basis are due to ester compounds. Fruity aromas like strawberry and pineapple to floral scents like jasmine and rose give esters their characteristic fragrance.

Areas of application 

Esters play an important role in many areas. They are volatile and have low boiling points. This makes them ideal solvents in various applications. 
  • In the cosmetics industry, esters are often used as carriers for perfumes and essential oils. They enable an even distribution of fragrances and ensure a long-lasting effect.
  • Esters are also used in the food industry. Many artificial flavours used in foods and beverages are ester compounds. They give them the desired taste and make them appealing to us.
  • Another important field of application for esters is the pharmaceutical industry. Ester compounds are often used as drug carriers to enable the targeted release of drugs in the body. By changing the ester structure, the rate and duration of release can be controlled, which is very important for drug development.
  • As a solvent/additive for coatings, paints, adhesives or generally in the field of coating, esters show many properties that are beneficial for the respective formulation in many areas. Therefore, they are often used in coating formulations, dispersion paints, industrial paints and wood paints.
  • Vinyl acetate is one of the most important monomers for the polymerisation of polymeric binder dispersions and resins.

A distinction is made between different groups of esters:



Using the example of ethyl acetate (ethyl acetate). General reaction equation.

Various organic esters can also be produced by biotechnological means.

Important representatives

Product group and important representatives


Acetic acid esters/acetates:
  • Ethyl acetate
  • Butyl acetate
  • n-propyl acetate
  • Isopropyl acetate
  • Vinyl acetate

Solvents in paint and varnish production (ethyl and butyl acetate)
Solvents in various industrial processes
Solvents in printing applications
Hydrophobing agents (butyl acetate in leather sprays)
Flavouring agents (strawberry, pineapple, banana, etc.)
Monomers for the production of synthetic resin dispersions
Acetylsalicylic acid (also an acetic acid ester) - Aspirin
Sulphuric acid esters/alkyl sulphates  

Production of anionic surfactants
Detergent production
Production of cosmetic raw materials and preparations
Esters of phthalic acid, adipic acid, maleic acid

Plasticisers for PVC and other plastics
Dispersing agents and emulsifiers
Production of cooling lubricants
Cosmetic products
Synthetic resin production
Rapeseed fatty acid methyl ester Biodiesel
Glycerol ester    
Cosmetic raw materials
Explosives (nitroglycerine)
Cellulose acetate     Production of textile fibres

In summary, esters are a fascinating group of chemical compounds that are of great importance due to their unique properties and applications. Whether in perfumery, food industry, pharmaceuticals or plastics manufacturing, esters are present everywhere. Their pleasant fragrances, volatile properties and solvent qualities make them indispensable components of many products we use every day.


Standard ester portfolio of Donauchem GmbH

  • Ethyl acetate
  • n-butyl acetate
  • Isobutyl acetate
  • n-propyl acetate
  • Isopropyl acetate
  • Butylglycol acetate
  • 3-methoxy-n-butyl acetate (Butoxyl)
  • Pentyl acetate (Amyl acetate)
  • Methoxypropyl acetate
  • Lactates (Ester of lactic acid)
  • Citrates (Ester of citric acid)
Do you have any questions or would you like more detailed information about our product portfolio?
Our employees look forward to hearing from you.
Donauchem GmbH



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