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Question

How would you distinguish experimentally between an alcohol and carboxylic acid?


Solution

Alcohols can be distinguished from carboxylic acid using the sodium carbonate $$ \left ( Na_{2}CO_{3} \right ) $$ or sodium bicarbonate $$ \left ( NaHCO_{3} \right ) $$ test. Alcohols do not react with sodium carbonate or bicarbonate, whereas acid reacts with them to release carbon dioxide.

$$ 2RCOOH+Na_{2}CO_{3}\rightarrow 2RCOONa+CO_{2}\uparrow+H_{2}O $$

$$ RCOOH+NaHCO_{3}\rightarrow RCOONa+CO_{2}\uparrow+H_{2}O $$

$$ Alcohol+Na_{2}CO_{3}\rightarrow \text {No reaction} $$

Chemistry

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