Carboxylic Acid

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A series of free IGCSE Chemistry Activities and Experiments (Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry).

Carboxylic Acid
• Draw the structures of methanoic acid, ethanoic acid and propanoic acid.
• Describe the reactions of carboxylic acids.

  1. Carboxylic acids react with carbonates to produce carbon dioxide.
  2. Carboxylic acids react with alcohols to make esters.
  3. Carboxylic acids dissolve in water to produce acidic solutions.

• Explain why carboxylic acids are weak acids.
Hydrochloric acid is a strong acid as it fully ionises. Hydrochloric acid has a low pH.
Carboxylic acid are weak acids as they do not fully ionise. Carboxylic acids have a higher pH.

Carboxylic Acid Reactions

  1. Reaction with sodium hydroxide
    Ethanoic acid + sodium hydroxide → sodium ethanoate + water
    CH3COOH + NaOH → CH3COONa + H2O
  2. Reaction with sodium carbonate
    Ethanoic acid + sodium carbonate → sodium ethanoate + carbon dioxide + water
    2CH3COOH + NaCO3 → 2CH3COONa + CO2 + H2O
  3. Reaction with sodium hydrogen carbonate
    Ethanoic acid + sodium carbonate → sodium ethanoate + carbon dioxide + water
    CH3COOH + NaHCO3 → CH3COONa + CO2 + H2O
  4. Reaction with aqueous ammonia
    Ethanoic acid + ammonia → ammonium ethanoate
  5. Reaction with sodium metal
    Ethanoic acid + sodium → sodium ethanoate + hydrogen
    2CH3COOH + 2Na → 2CH3COONa + H2
  6. Reaction with phosphorus pentachloride
    CH3COOH + PCl5 → CH3COCl + HCl + POCl3

Ethanol and Ethanoic Acid
Ethanol is produced from ethene, a chemical produced from the fractional distillation of crude oil and involving cracking using a catalyst at high temperature and pressure. Ethanol can be made in two ways:
1. Hydration of Ethene
Ethene + steam → ethanol
C2H4 + H2O → C2H5OH
2. Fermentation of Glucose
Fermentation of sugar from standard crops like sugar cane and corn, under warm and anaerobic conditions.
sugar (glucose) → ethanol + carbon dioxide
C6H12O6 → 2C2H5OH + 2CO2
This process uses yeast as an enzyme.

Ethanoic Acid
Ethanol + oxygen → ethanoic acid + water
C2H5OH + O2 → CH3COOH + H2O
Ethanoic acid is also known as acetic acid or vinegar.

Carboxylic Acids - Reactions
• Ethanoic acid is a typical acid. It will turn litmus paper and universal indicator red.
Ethanoic acid reacts with metal to form hydrogen gas.
• Magnesium + ethanoic acid → magnesium ethanoate + hydrogen
Mg(s) + 2CH3COOH(aq) → (CH3COO)2Mg(aq) + H2(g)
• Ethanoic acid reacts with bases to form water in a neutralisation reaction.
Ethanoic acid + sodium hydroxide → sodium ethanoate + water
2CH3COOH(aq) + NaOH(aq) → CH3COO2Na(aq) + H2O(l)
• Ethanoic acid reacts with carbonates to form water and carbon dioxide.
Ethanoic acid + sodium carbonate → sodium ethanoate + water
2CH3COOH(aq) + Na2CO3(aq) → 2CH3COO2Na(aq) + CO2(g) + H2O(l)

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