Doc Brown's Chemistry AQA GCSE Science-CHEMISTRY 3 Revision Notes

Chemistry Unit C3.6 Alcohols, carboxylic acids and esters Study Notes

CHEMISTRY UNIT 3 Chemistry 3 for GCSE Triple Award Science or GCSE Chemistry

REVISION NOTES GUIDE SUMMARY: What do you need to know for the examinations? What do you need to able to do in the exams? In AQA GCSE Science A examinations HT means for higher tier students only. Sorry, but I don't have much time to answer questions, but if you see any apparent errors or wish to comment, please email me. All my notes, learning objectives, comments for exam revision are based on the official AQA GCSE Science A Key Stage 4 syllabus specification.

  • Throughout this unit you will be expected to write word equations for reactions specified.

  • Higher tier (HT) candidates will also be expected to write and balance symbol equations for reactions specified throughout the unit.

AQA GCSE Science CHEMISTRY Unit C3.6 Alcohols, carboxylic acids and esters

  • Appreciate that alcohols and carboxylic acids are important organic chemicals that have many uses.

  • Know that alcohols react with carboxylic acids to produce esters.

  • You should be able to use your skills, knowledge and understanding to:

AQA GCSE Science CHEMISTRY Unit C3.6.1 Alcohols

  • a) Know alcohols contain the functional group –OH.

    • Methanol, ethanol and propanol are the first three members of a homologous series of alcohols.

    • You should be able to recognise alcohols from their names or formulae, but do not need to know the names of individual alcohols, other than methanol, ethanol and propanol.

  • b) Know that methanol, ethanol and propanol:

    • dissolve in water to form a neutral solution

    • react with sodium to produce hydrogen

    • burn in air

      • You are not expected to write balanced chemical equations for the reactions of alcohols other than combustion reactions.

    • are used as a fuels and solvents

    • ethanol is the main alcohol in alcoholic drinks.

  • c) Know that ethanol can be oxidised to ethanoic acid, either by chemical oxidising agents or by microbial action.

AQA GCSE Science CHEMISTRY Unit C3.6.2 Carboxylic acids

  • a) Know that ethanoic acid is a member of the carboxylic acids, which have the functional group –COOH.

    • You should be able to recognise carboxylic acids from their names or formulae, but do not need to know the names of individual carboxylic acids, other than methanoic acid, ethanoic acid and propanoic acid.

  • b) Know that carboxylic acids:

    • dissolve in water to produce acidic solutions

    • react with carbonates to produce carbon dioxide

    • react with alcohols in the presence of an acid catalyst to produce esters

    • HT only: do not ionise completely when dissolved in water and so are weak acids

    • HT only: aqueous solutions of weak acids have a higher pH value than aqueous solutions of strong acids with the same concentration.

AQA GCSE Science CHEMISTRY Unit C3.6.3 Esters

  • a) Ethyl ethanoate is the ester produced from ethanol and ethanoic acid.

    • Esters have the functional group –COO–

    • They are volatile compounds with distinctive smells and are used as flavourings and perfumes.

  • You will not be expected to give the names of esters other than ethyl ethanoate, but should be able to recognise a compound as an ester from its name or its structural formula.


  • Revise demonstrations you saw or practical work you did to develop skills and understanding which may have included the following:

    • investigation of the reactions of ethanol

    • comparison of properties of ethanol with water

    • oxidation of ethanol using aqueous potassium dichromate

    • designing and carrying out an investigation of the oxidation of dilute solutions of ethanol (eg wine or beer) by exposing to the air for several days

    • comparison of the reactions of methanol, ethanol and propanol

    • investigation of the reactions of ethanoic acid

    • distinguishing between samples of ethanol, ethanoic acid and ethyl ethanoate using simple chemical tests

    • preparation of ethyl ethanoate using ethanol and ethanoic acid with sulfuric acid as a catalyst.

    • add drops of esters to water to smell more effectively.



OCR GCSE 21st Century Science A CHEMISTRY  *  OCR GCSE Gateway Science B CHEMISTRY

WJEC GCSE Science-CHEMISTRY  *  Northern Ireland CCEA GCSE Science-CHEMISTRY

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