Diethyl Ether -(C2H5)2O

What is Diethyl Ether?

Ether is a common name for diethyl ether. Ether is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid with a distinctive odor. It belongs to the large group of organic compounds called ethers. It is also known by the name ethyl ether. The chemical formula for diethyl ether is C2H5OC2H5. It is the most common ether known historically. The discovery of ether is credited to the German physician and botanist Valerius Cordus in 1515-1554.

IUPAC name – Ethoxyethane


Diethyl Ether


713 kg/m³

Molecular Weight/ Molar Mass

74.12 g/mol

Melting Point

-116.3 °C

Boiling Point

34.6 °C

Compound Formula


Diethyl Ether Structure – (C2H5)2O

Diethyl Ether Structure

Synthesis of Diethyl Ether – (C2H5)2O

Ether is synthesized by the dehydration of ethanol using sulfuric acid. The chemical reaction is as follows.

2CH3CH2OH + 2H2SO4 → (CH3CH2)2O + H2SO4 + H2O

Physical Properties of Diethyl Ether – (C2H5)2O


Sweet, Pungent odour


Colorless liquid

Vapor Pressure

439.8 mm Hg at 20 deg C


Ethers are polar in nature, so they are more soluble in water than alkanes.

Chemical Properties of Diethyl Ether – (C2H5)2O

  1. Combustion – Ether is highly flammable liquid and undergoes combustion reaction resulting in the formation of carbon dioxide and water.

    C2H5OC2H5 + 6O2 → 4CO2 + 5H2O

  2. Halogenation – Ether reacts with halogens like chlorine or bromine forming halo substituted ether undergoes substitution reaction in the absence of sunlight.
  3. C2H5OC2H5 + Cl2 → C2H4(Cl)OC2H4(Cl)

Uses of Diethyl Ether – (C2H5)2O

  • Used as a common laboratory solvent.
  • Used as an excellent solvent for alkaloids, dyes, fats, oils, resins and waxes.
  • Used in the recovery of acetic acid from aqueous solutions in cellulose acetate and plastic industry.

Health Hazard

Diethyl ether inhalation may cause headache, nausea, vomiting and loss of consciousness. If it comes in contact with skin or eyes causes irritation. High exposure of diethyl ether can cause damage to the kidney.

Practise This Question

Take some rice and water in a beaker and stir it. Now, allow the mixture to stand for some time. You could see that the rice settles at the bottom of the beaker. This is called ______. Now gently pour the water out into another vessel without disturbing the rice. This can be said as _____.