Qualitative Tests, Structure and Uses of Ethyl Alcohol, Methyl Alcohol, Chlorobutanol : Pharmaceutical Guidelines -->

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Qualitative Tests, Structure and Uses of Ethyl Alcohol, Methyl Alcohol, Chlorobutanol

In these tests, use dry ether or benzene as an inert solvent for a liquid compound or a solid compound solution.

Ethyl alcohol


The chemical compound, informally known as alcohol, ethanol, or drinking alcohol, has the chemical formula C2H5OH, which is written as CH3−CH2−OH. In the fermentation process, ethanol is produced, a chemical used in making alcoholic beverages and biofuels. Sugar is metabolized by certain yeast species, resulting in ethanol and carbon dioxide.

C6H12O6 → 2 CH3CH2OH + 2 CO2


Antibacterial hand sanitizer gels and medical wipes contain ethanol as one of the ingredients. In addition to killing most bacteria and fungi, ethanol kills many viruses by denaturing their proteins. Ethanol can be used as an antidote to poisoning from methanol and ethylene glycol. The stomach secretes more acid when ethanol is consumed. Alcohol is a depressant that affects the nervous system. Mood can be lifted, euphoria can be felt, anxiety can be reduced. The most common uses of ethanol are in motor fuels and fuel additives. Alcohol is a good general-purpose solvent because it is miscible with water. Chemicals containing this compound can be found in paints, tinctures, markers, mouthwashes, perfumes, and deodorants.

Qualitative tests

The hydroxyl group (-OH) is bonded to the carbon chain of an aliphatic compound or to its side chain. Alcohols are classified according to the amount of hydroxyl groups they contain as monohydric (contain only one –OH group), dihydric (contain two –OH groups) and trihydric (contain three –OH groups).

In addition to classifying alcohols according to the degree of hydroxyl group attached to primary carbon atoms, alcohols can also be classified into secondary and tertiary alcohols.

Methyl alcohol


Methanol is chemically represented by CH3OH. It is sometimes written as MeOH, as a methyl group (–CH3) forms a linkage with a hydroxyl group (–OH) in its chemical structure. Methanol molecules have a molecular weight of 32.04 grams. Following are some of how Methanol can be represented molecularly:

Methanol contains an sp3 hybridized carbon atom. The presence of a hydroxyl group in Methanol allows it to easily form hydrogen bonds with acceptors of hydrogen bonds. One of the classic examples of hydrogen bonding studied is water-methanol mixtures.


  • The commercial production of ethanol uses Methanol as an alcohol denaturant to prevent factory workers from accessing ethanol.
  • Synthesis of methanol can be based on heterogeneous catalysts such as zeolites, which are capable of catalyzing condensation reactions. Methanol can function as a source of gasoline, olefins, and other high-level aromatic compounds.
  • When methanol is thermally decomposed, carbon dioxide and water are released, making it a suitable fuel for automobiles. The combustion engine of cars uses carbon dioxide as a source of thermal energy.
  • As a fuel source, methanol was often used in stove-based cooking appliances.
  • The de-staining agent methanol is used to remove dyes originally added to the gel to detect proteins or nucleic acids during polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE).
  • The perfume industry also uses methanol as a component.
  • Many pharmaceutical reactions take place in methanol.

Qualitative Tests

1. Sodium metal test

A reaction between alcohol and active metals, such as sodium, releases hydrogen gas, which is visible in the form of effervescence.

2. Ester test

Fruity-smelling compounds called esters are created when alcohol interacts with carboxylic acids. A concentrated sulphuric acid is used to catalyze esterification, which occurs when alcohol reacts with carboxylic acid.

3. Ceric ammonium nitrate test

A reddish-coloured alkoxy cerium (IV) compound is formed when alcohol reacts with ceric ammonium nitrate.



A variety of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products contain chlorobutanol (trichloro-2-methyl-2-propanol). As a result of its antibacterial and antifungal properties, the substance inhibits microbial growth for an extended period. A simple nucleophilic reaction occurs when chloroform and acetone are added to KOH or NaOH to produce chlorobutanol.


In conjunction with clove oil, applied topically to provide dental analgesia. Sedative and hypnotic properties are provided by chlorobutanol. Antiseptic, anti-microbial, and local anesthetic purposes of chlorobutanol in pharmaceuticals. This preservative is used in injections, eye drops, mouthwashes, salves, creams, ointments, and cosmetics at a concentration of 0.5%.

Qualitative tests

The following methods can be used to analyze organic compounds for OH groups. In these tests, use dry ether or benzene as an inert solvent for a liquid compound or a solid compound solution.

Phosphorus pentachloride test - As phosphorus pentachloride reacts with alcohol for phosphorus pentachloride test results in the emission of HCl gas, a warm mixture is formed. The presence of the OH group reveals the composition of the given compound.

Sodium metal test - This test relies on the effervescence produced by alcohol reacting with active metals such as sodium, which releases hydrogen gas.

Acetyl chloride test - Testing for alcohol produces hydrogen chloride and ester when alcohol is combined with acetyl chloride. The resulting hydrogen chloride forms a white fume of ammonium chloride and water upon contact with the ammonium hydroxide.

Ceric ammonium nitrate - A complex compound is made as a reaction occurs between alcohol and ceric ammonium nitrate, resulting in the formation of a pink or red precipitate.

Esterification test - As a result of the esterification reaction, carboxylic acid forms a fruit-scented ester. Esterification is the reaction that occurs when an alcohol reacts with a carboxylic acid.

Acetyl chloride test
The reaction between alcohol and acetyl chloride forms esters and gives off hydrogen chloride gas. In combination with ammonium hydroxide, hydrogen chloride forms white fumes.

Iodoform test
The test is conducted on all acetaldehydes, all methyl ketones and all alcohols containing CH3-CH-OH groups. Iodine and sodium hydroxide dissolve in alcohol to form iodoform, which is a yellow precipitate.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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