The Esterification of Ethanol to Ethyl Ethanoate

Introduction

Apart from the normal reactions of acids, such as reactions with metals and bases, ethanoic acid (along with all the carboxylic acids) will react with ethanol (or other alcohols) to give ethyl ethanoate (an ester) in a simple process.

Diagram -

Method

Set up a boiling tube in a beaker of cold water as in the diagram above. Add about a few cm's depth of ethanol followed by another cm of ethanoic acid from a bottle. Then carefully add a few drops of concentrated sulphuric acid (CARE: very dangerous) to the boiling tube. Add an anti-bumping granule or two, and heat up the water bath until the reaction mixture in the boiling tube starts to boil gently. Keep the reaction boiling gently for about 15 minute. Then raise the boiling tube out of the water bath and leave to cool.

Carefully add some sodium or calcium carbonate to the boiling tube until no more fizzing is produced. Filter the solution and carefully smell the clear liquid remaining.

Note down all your observations during this reaction.