Synthesis is the construction of complex chemical compounds from simpler ones. It is the process by which many substances important to daily life can be obtained. It is applied to all types of chemical compounds, but most syntheses are done with organic compounds such as the ones used in our labs, Carboxylic Acid and Alcohol. Esterification is the name of the reaction in which two reactants, which in our case are the Carboxylic acid and the alcohol, form an ester. Esters are used very often in organic
chemistry and biological materials, and also if reacted correctly, have a pleasant odor. Due to this characteristic, Esters are very important to all kinds of taste and scent businesses.
In our lab, in order to achieve the best possible outcome of our ester, we were introduced to two new techniques: Refluxing and the use of Catalysts. As the rate of the chemical reaction can change according to the temperature, we were to use catalysts to speed up or slow down the rate of the reaction if needed. The catalyst that we used in our experiment was a drop of sulfuric acid. After the catalyst and the reactants were combined, we were required to heat the mixture and allow it to boil gently for a short time. While we heated it, I noticed that the mixture bubbled vigorously and if we heated it too long in the same place, smoke arose from the glass rod. I also observed in other groups that if they heated it too long, their glass rod would bend and twist out of shape. To make sure the majority if not all of the mixture was contained in the test tube, we used a method called refluxing which is the process, in which a reaction mixture is maintained at a gentle boil without loss of material. Our refluxing was done by attaching a condenser to the top of the reaction test tube, allowing any evaporating liquid to cool, recondense, and drip back into the reaction vessel. Once all these procedures have been completed, you should know that the reaction was successful by the odor of the mixture and the amount of it you have left. Our odor smelled of really strong, bad mint probably due to our overheating mistake. We were once really close to having the rubber stopper pop out of the test tube because we heated it too long in one place so the mixture bubbled and released bursts of gas. Our