Esterification Reaction and equilibrium constant determination.

Esterification is a common organic reaction that involves the reaction of a carboxylic acid with an alcohol to form an ester and water. In this experiment, we will be carrying out an esterification reaction to test the equilibrium position at different temperatures using ethanoic acid and ethanol.

Safety precautions:

• Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, lab coat, and gloves to prevent any accidental contact with the chemicals.
• Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any fumes.
• Avoid skin and eye contact with the chemicals.
• Ethanol is highly flammable; keep it away from heat sources and flames.
• Use caution when handling hot glassware.


• Ethanoic acid (glacial acetic acid)
• Ethanol
• Concentrated sulfuric acid
• Distilled water
• Sodium carbonate solution (saturated)
• Thermometer
• Round-bottom flask
• Condenser
• Heating mantle
• Stirring rod
• Test tube
• Dropper
• pH paper
• Ice bath


  1. Measure out 10 mL of ethanoic acid and 10 mL of ethanol in a clean and dry round-bottom flask.
  2. Add 2-3 drops of concentrated sulfuric acid as a catalyst to the flask.
  3. Place the flask on a heating mantle and attach a condenser to the top of the flask.
  4. Fill the condenser with distilled water.
  5. Turn on the heating mantle and heat the mixture to 60°C.
  6. Stir the mixture using a stirring rod.
  7. Record the temperature of the mixture using a thermometer.
  8. After 15 minutes, turn off the heating mantle and allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature.
  9. Once the mixture has cooled down, add 10 mL of saturated sodium carbonate solution to the flask to neutralize any remaining acid.
  10. Transfer the mixture to a test tube using a dropper.
  11. Use pH paper to check the pH of the mixture. It should be around 7 if the reaction is complete.
  12. Repeat steps 1-11 for two other temperatures, 40°C and 80°C.

Data analysis:

Record the time it takes for the mixture to reach equilibrium at each temperature. This can be done using a sodium hydroxude and phenolphthalein titration.

Calculate the equilibrium constant (Kc) for the reaction at each temperature using the following formula:
Kc = [ester]/([acid][alcohol])

Where [ester], [acid], and [alcohol] represent the equilibrium concentrations of each component.

Plot the Kc values against temperature to determine how the equilibrium position changes with temperature.

Note: The esterification reaction is reversible, so it is essential to determine the concentration of all three components at equilibrium. However, the ester is typically the major component in the mixture, so you may need to dilute the mixture before analyzing it.

In conclusion, carrying out an esterification reaction to test the equilibrium position at different temperatures using ethanoic acid and ethanol requires careful attention to safety and following the proper procedure. By analyzing the equilibrium constant at different temperatures, we can determine how the equilibrium position changes with temperature.



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