Why dry ether medium is needed for Wurtz reaction?

Dry ether is used in Wurtz reaction. Before knowing why dry ether is used let us first know what Wurtz reaction is.

Wurtz reaction

Wurtz’s reaction is an organic chemical coupling reaction wherein sodium metal is reacted with two alkyl halides in the given environmental conditions by a solution of dry ether in order to form a higher alkane along with a compound containing sodium and the halogen.

General form of reaction

The general form of the Wurtz reaction equation can be written as follows:

2R-X + 2Na → R-R + 2Na+ X

It can be noted that the two R groups are joined, yielding an alkane with a longer chain along with NaX, where X is a Halogen.

Use of Dry ether

Dry ether is used in the Wrutz reaction due to the following reasons:

  • The reaction is conducted in the presence of sodium metal which is highly reactive, hence, so a solvent must be selected in such a way that, it will not react with the sodium metal.
  • Also, the alkyl halide must dissolve in the solvent.
  • The sodium halide formed must be insoluble in the solvent which can be easily removed, and alkane formed must remain in the solution.
  • The reaction condition requires an aprotic solvent as the medium of the reaction. Dry ether is a very good non-polar, aprotic solvent for this purpose.

Hence dry ether is used in Wurtz reaction.

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