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Alcohols, Phenols and Ethers

Chemistry | 12-14 yrs | Interactive

Remember sometimes you go to a petrol pump and smell the petrol? Or if someone is cleaning the bathroom they pour a liquid and the liquid has a smell to it? Or when you go to the doctor when you are hurt and they apply a solution that feels cool when it is put on your skin. These things may contain chemicals that are known in chemistry as Alcohols, Phenols and Ethers.

What is an organic compound?

An organic compound is any compound which contains a carbon atom. Most oils, petrol and diesel and most molecules in living things are organic compounds.

What is hydroxyl group?

A hydroxyl group is an Oxygen atom attached to a Hydrogen atom.

What are alcohols?

An alcohol is when the Oxygen of the Hydroxyl group is also connected to the Carbon of an organic compound. Many alcohols are produced when the fruit is left alone for a few days and the bacteria eat the sugar inside the fruit. They use the sugar for energy and produce a waste that is usually alcohol.

Classification of alcohols

Alcohols are classified depending on the number of carbon atoms they contain.

  1. Methanol
  2. Ethanol
  3. Propanol
  4. Butanol
  5. Pentanol
  6. Hexanol

General formula of an alcohol

The General Formula of an alcohol is C(n)H(2n+1)-OH
Where “n”- Is the number of Carbon atoms

5 Uses of alcohols

Alcohols are used in a variety of ways,

  1. Alcohols are used in disinfecting the skin of a patient when they are injured or are about to be operated upon.
  2. Alcohols are used as fuel.
  3. Alcohols are also used as antifreeze to stop liquids from freezing in winter.
  4. Alcohols can also be used at preservatives.
  5. Alcohol is used as a solvent to dissolve chemicals, creating perfumes and more.

What are phenols?

Phenols are aromatic compounds- which means that when you smell phenols, they will give off a fruity smell.
Phenols are six carbon atom arranged in a circle with a Hydroxyl group attached to one of them.

General formula of a phenol

The formula of a phenol is C6H5-OH

Uses of phenols

Phenols are used in many cleaning agents when you clean floors and bathrooms, they are excellent at killing bacteria.
Phenol is also used in the production of cosmetics such as sunscreen and hair dye.

What are ethers?

Ethers are two Carbon atoms connected by an Oxygen Atom. These two carbon atoms could be part of larger compounds as well.

General formula of a ether

The general formula of a ether is C-O-C

Uses of ethers

Ethers are very interesting molecules because of their peculiar structure. They are used in Aerosol sprays, High Boiling Solvents and as a part of cosmetics.

Examples of ethers

Ethylene Oxide, Anisol and Diethyl ether are examples of ethers.

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