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Esterification HTML5


In an esterification reaction, a carboxylic acid reacts with an alcohol to form an ester and water.

Carboxylic acid + Alcohol    Ester + Water

Esters consist of two hydrocarbon chains, as labelled R-COOH (for the carboxyl group) and R'-OH (for the hydroxyl group) in this simulation. Esters are natural organic compounds with broad applications in biology (Phosphodiester bounds, fruit flavor), chemistry, industry (soaps, artificial flavors and aromas).

An ester's name is based on the name for the acid followed by the suffix -oate.

For example :

  • Ethanoic acid reacts with methanol to form methyl ethanoate and water.
  • Propanoic acid reacts with ethanol to form ethyl propanate and water.

Select an acid and an alcohol.

Click on to start the reaction.

Learning goals

  • To know how to name an ester.
  • To visualize the esterification reaction.

Learn more

Carboxylic acid + Alcohol ↔ Ester + Water

The esterification reaction is reversible. This means that ester can recombine with water to (re)produce the acid and alcohol. This reaction is called…

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