Alcohols, Carboxylic Acids and Esters



  • Homologous series -OH
  • All end in 'ol'
    1. methanol 2. ethanol 3. propanol   <-- dissolve completely in water, neutral solutions


  • Flammable- burn in air --> water + carbon dioxide
  • React with sodium --> alkoxide + hydrogen e.g. ethanol --> ethoxide + hydrogen
  • Ethanol - alcoholic drinks, damages the liver and brain
  • Used as:
    -fuel (clean)
    -very useful as solvents (dissolves substances water cannot)
    -methylated spirit --> ethanol with chemicals added, very poisonous
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Carboxylic Acids

  • Homologous series - COOH
  • End in 'anoic'
  • 1. methanoic 2. ethanoic 3. propanoic


  • React like any other carbonates --> produce salt + water + carbon dioxide
  • The salts formed end in 'anoate'
  • Dissolve in water --> weak acidic solutions, partially ionised so an acid of the same concentration may have a more acidic pH
  • Ethanoic acid is oxidised ethanol (dissolved in water makes vinegar), preserving foods etc
  • Citric acid- oranges and lemons, lots produced- production of fizzy drinks and get rid of scale
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  • Homologous series -COO-
  • End in 'yl' and then 'anoate'
  • Alcohol + carboxylic acid --> ester + water
  • An acid catalyst is usually used such as sulfuric acid 
    1. Ethyl Ethanoate
    Ethanol + Ethanoic Acid --> Ethyl Ethanoate + Water

  • The alcohol is the 'yl', the carboxylic acid is the 'anoate'
  • Properties and Uses:
    -smelly & fruity
    -volatile (evaporate easily) & flammable (dangerous)
    -nail varnish remover 
  • Fumes can irritate mucus membranes and they're toxic --> health issues
  • However, they're not as volatile or as toxic as some organic solvents and esters have actually replaced some of these 
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