Aspirin is one of the medications that are used to reduce pain, inflammation and temperature. It has been used for several decades and still remains to be a choice even after the introduction of other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Although at present, many medical professionals just prescribe or recommend aspirin for people with certain heart problems since aspirin has been proven to reduce the risk of blood clotting.
Because aspirin is present in many home medical kits, it can be observed that after some time of storage, aspirin will start to smell like vinegar. The chemical explanation for this can be simplified by understanding the chemical natures of aspirin and vinegar.
The Chemical Nature of Aspirin
Aspirin is chemically known as acetyl salicylic acid. After some time, or when stored in non ideal conditions, it will easily deteriorate into acetic acid and salicylic acid even without the presence of other chemicals.
The Chemical Nature of Vinegar
Vinegar came from the fermented juices of fruits that contain sugars. The initial fermentation of the freshly extracted juices will result to the creation of wine. If the fermentation is allowed to continue, the alcohol in the wine will further be converted into acetic acid. Acetic acid gives that sour flavor and distinct odor to vinegar and related products.
Why Aspirin Smells Like Vinegar
When aspirin starts to decompose, its molecules will separate into salicylic acid and acetic acid. Having acetic acid as the product of decomposition of aspirin gives it a similar odor as that of vinegar (which has diluted amounts of acetic acid as its component).
How to Store Aspirin
To slow down the decomposition process of aspirin, it must be stored in suitable conditions.
1. Store the container in a cool and dry place.
Exposure to moisture will facilitate the hydrolysis of the aspirin molecules into its decomposition products.
2. Keep the container tightly closed.
Exposure to air provides the oxygen that is required for the oxidation of aspirin into acetic acid and salicylic acid.
3. Keep aspirin (and other medications) away from areas in which there is strong sunlight.
Strong lighting conditions can also hasten the deterioration of many medications. They are best stored in amber bottles.
Several years after the manufacture of aspirin, it is expected to slowly deteriorate and lose ifs efficiency. To slow down the deterioration process, follow the proper storage procedures. And if you have aspirin tablets that smell strongly of vinegar, discard them. Just go to the nearest drugstore. Aspirin rarely goes out of stock.