Ethyl Acetate

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Have you noticed a different smell similar to pear drops comes from glues and nail polish remover? If yes, then you have smelled ethyl acetate used in glues and nail polish removers. Ethyl acetate or ethyl ethanoate is commonly abbreviated as EtOAc , ETAC or EA.

What is Ethyl Acetate? 

Ethyl acetate is an organic compound which is an ester of ethanol and acetic acid. It is widely used as solvent in chemical reactions or preparations. This is the reason it is manufactured on a large scale. 

What is the Structure and Molecular Formula of Ethyl Acetate? 

Molecular formula of ethyl acetate is C4H8O2. It can be written as CH3-COO-CH2-CH3.

Structure of Ethyl acetate –                                       

Structure Formula of Ethyl Acetate

Its molecular formula can be easily memorized because as the name suggests it contains ethyl group (CH2-CH3 or C2H5) and acetate group (CH3COO). 

Properties of Ethyl Acetate 

Physical Properties of Ethyl Acetate – It shows following physical properties –

  • Its molar mass is 88.1 g.mol-1.

  • It is a colorless liquid.

  • It has an ether like, fruity odor.

  • Its melting point is -83.6.

  • Its boiling point is 77.1.

  • It is soluble in water, ethanol, acetone etc.

Chemical Properties of Ethyl Acetate – Few chemical properties of ethyl acetate are listed below –

  • Hydrolysis – On reaction with water ethyl acetate gives ethanol and acetic acid. Reaction is given below –


  • Reaction with Sodium Hydroxide – When ethyl acetate reacts with sodium hydroxide, it gives sodium acetate and ethanol. Reaction is given below –

CH3CO2C2H5 + NaOH 🡪 C2H5OH + CH3CO2Na

  • Condensation Reaction – Ethyl acetate shows Claisen condensation reaction and produces ethyl acetoacetate. Reaction is given below –

Production of Ethyl Acetate 

Ethyl acetate is synthesized on a large scale because it is widely used as solvent for many compounds. In industries it is synthesized by Fischer esterification reaction. In this reaction ethanol and acetic acid are used as reactants. The reaction takes place at room temperature which gives 65% yield. Reaction is given below –

CH3COOH + CH3CH2OH 🡪 CH3COOCH2CH3 + H2O

It is also prepared by the Tishchenko reaction in industry at large scale. In this reaction two equivalents of acetaldehyde react in presence of an alkoxide catalyst. Reaction is given below-

2CH3CHO alkoxide→ CH3COOCH2CH3

Uses of Ethyl Acetate 

Ethyl acetate is a very useful organic compound. Large scale production of ethyl acetate, itself shows its importance in the industry. Few of its uses are listed below –

  • It is primarily used as solvent and diluent. 

  • It is used in decaffeination of coffee beans and tea leaves. 

  • It is used in paints as an activator and hardener. 

  • Due to its fruity smell it is used in perfumes, jelly etc. 

  • It is an important laboratory reagent. 

  • It is used in column chromatography and extractions as solvent.

  • It is used in the wines.

Health Hazard Due to Ethyl Acetate 

Ethyl acetate is a very useful compound but has a little risk of toxicity. Its hazardous effects are listed below –

  • Overuse of ethyl acetate causes irritation in eyes, nose and throat.

  • It may also cause weakness, drowsiness and unconsciousness. 

  • Regular use of ethyl acetate causes harmful effects on the respiratory tract. 

  • At very high concentration it may cause depression of the central nervous system and death. 

  • It may also cause liver damage, eruptions of the skin and cornea damage. 

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