The Process Of Boiling Reactants

1064 Words Aug 29th, 2014 5 Pages
The reflux procedure is ‘the process of boiling reactants while continuously cooling the vapour and returning it back to the flask as a liquid’ (, 2014). The reactants are needed to be heated for a long period of time with the sulfuric acid, which acts as a catalyst to speed the reaction up, in order for the reactants to react and be converted into the products, which in this case is the ester. However the reactants are very volatile which means that it is easily evaporates and won’t produce the products. Reflux is then needed and used to cool any of the reactant and product vapour evaporating to be heated by reflux once again.
There are a few different steps into separating and purifying the ester from the mixture.
At the end of reflux, both the reactants and products are present in the pear-shaped flask. This is because the acid used was very weak and did not fully react with the alcohol therefore once the mixture has reached a chemical equilibrium, the concentration will remain the same. This means that not all the reactants are going to be converted into products. Washing the mixture with 20mL of distilled water allowed the separation between the aqueous layer (water-soluble substances) and the organic layer (ester) in the separating funnel. Therefore washing the mixture with distilled water is needed to separate the aqueous layer, which is discarded, with the ester.
There will still be a small amount of acid which wasn’t…

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