Types of Alcohols

Main Types of Alcohols

There are three types of Alcohols are differentiated based upon the presence of a hydroxyl group attached. The location of this hydroxyl group as well will change the physical and chemical properties of any alcohol. There are three types of alcohol. Alcohols are classified as primary, secondary or tertiary alcohols.

Types of Alcohols

The classification is done in accordance to where the carbon atom of an alkyl group is attached to the hydroxyl group. Most of the alcohols are known to be colourless liquids or even are said to behave as solid at room temperatures. Alcohols with less molecular weight are said to be highly soluble in water; and with their increase in molecular weight, they tend to become less soluble and their vapour pressures, boiling points, densities, and the viscosities to increase.

  1. Primary Alcohols: Primary alcohols are those alcohols where the carbon atom of the hydroxyl group (OH) is attached to only one single alkyl group. Some examples of these primary alcohols include Methanol (propanol), ethanol, etc. The complexity of this alkyl chain is unrelated to the classification of any alcohol considered as primary. The existence of only one linkage among –OH group and an alkyl group and the thing that qualifies any alcohol as a primary.
  2. Secondary Alcohols: Secondary alcohols are those where the carbon atom of the hydroxyl group is attached to two alkyl groups on either side. The two alkyl groups present may be either structurally identical or even different.
  3. Tertiary Alcohols: Tertiary alcohols are those which feature hydroxyl group attached to the carbon atom which is connected to 3- alkyl groups. The physical properties of these alcohols mainly depend on their structure. The presence of this -OH group allows the alcohols in the formation of hydrogen bonds with their neighbouring atoms. The bonds formed are weak, and this bond makes the boiling points of alcohols higher than its alkanes.

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