Ethanol, the most famous alcohol in organic chemistry reacts with sodium metal, and produce sodium ethoxide and hydrogen gas as products.
Alcohols reacts with alkali metals such as sodium, potassium and produce alkoxide ion and hydrogen gas.
An alkoxide is the conjugate base of an alcohol. Generally, alkoxide ion can be denoted by RO-. R is an alkyl group such as methyl, ethyl, propyl and more.
There is a negative charge on oxygen atom in the CH3CH2O-. So this can take H+ ion very easily to show strong basic characteristics.
Also akoxide ion are good nucleophiles and ligands.
This reaction is a redox reaction. Sodium is oxidized to sodium ion and acidic hydrogen atom of ethanol is reduced to hydrogen gas.
This reaction tells us, ethanol has acidic characteristicss and can behave as an acid. But remember, ethanol and other aliphatic alcohols do not react with aqueous NaOH.
2CH3CH2OH + 2Na → 2CH3CH2O-Na+ + H2
Two moles of ethanol react with two moles of sodium to give one mol of hydrogen gas.
Ethoxide ion is more basic than hydroxyl ion.
As ethanol, methanol also reacts with sodium and produce sodium methoxide and hydrogen gas.
2CH3OH + 2Na → 2CH3O-Na+ + H2
As CH3OH + Na → CH3O-Na+ + H2 equation, can I write the equation as below.
C2H6O + Na → CH3O-Na+ + H2
No, this is wrong. Why? C2H6O is the common molecular formula for both ethanol and dimethyl ether. Dimethyl ether does not react with Na.
So, we do not know, what is expressed by C2H6O? whether CH3CH2OH or CH3OCH3
But we cannot identify alcohols from some other organic compound types such as phenol, carboxylic acids and alkynes with acidic hydrogen atoms because they also react with sodium.
But, aldehydes and ketones can be identified from alcohols from reaction with sodium because aldehyes and ketones do not react with sodium.
Look the reaction with their reactants and products. As a product, hydrogen gas is released. If hydrogen gas amount is large and have a chance to an ignition, there may be a huge explosion.
All reactive metals such as sodium, potassium react with alcohols and emoy hydrogen gas.
You cannot decide which is more acidic from reaction with sodium because both phenol and ethanol react with sodium. But when considering reactions with aqueous NaOH, you can decide phenol is more acidic than aliphatic alcohols.
Phenol reacts with NaOH and produce sodium phenoxide and aliphatic alcohols do not react with NaOH.
It will give a strong basic solution and will show a greater pH value. CH3CH2- is the reason for this strong basic characteristic.
In this occasion, ethanol doe not exist as a pure compound. It is a mixture of two liquids, water and ethanol. You know sodium readily reacts with water and produce sodium hydroxide and hydrogen gas.
This reaction can be used to produce ether. To produce ether, sodium ethanoate reacts with an alky halide.
In this reaction, hydrogen gas is emitted. When metal reacts with something and emit hydrogen gas, we call it a metal - acid reaction.
Thereffore, sodium is the metal and ethanol behaves like an acid.
Ka value of ethanol is 1 * 10-16 mol dm-3. So ethanol is less acidic than water and sodium reacts with water first.
Both emit hydrogen gas give respective salts.
CH3CH2OH + Na → CH3CH2O-Na+ + H2
CH3COOH + Na → CH3COO-Na+ + H2
Sodium is a very reactive metal and it forms +1 cation only (+1 ion). To represent +1 ion, we denote a + sign with Na.