Lucas Test for Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Alcohols

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Summary

1-butanol, 2-butanol, and 2-methyl-2-propanol are treated with a solution of ZnCl2 in concentrated aqueous HCl. The 9 thumbnail images summarize the content of the video. Click an image to see the image gallery.

Narration

Three test tubes contain a solution of zinc chloride (ZnCl2) in concentrated aqueous hydrochloric acid (HCl). The primary alcohol 1-butanol, the secondary alcohol 2-butanol, and the tertiary alcohol 2-methyl-2-propanol are added to separate test tubes. Immediately the tertiary alcohol forms a cloudy solution as the alcohol is converted to the water insoluble alkyl chloride by a SN1 reaction. The primary alcohol, 1-butanol, does not react. The secondary alcohol, 2-butanol, reacts after about 6.5 minutes.

Discussion

In sequence, 1-butanol, 2-butanol, and 2-methyl-2-propanol are treated with a solution of ZnCl2 in concentrated aqueous HCl. Immediately the tertiary alcohol forms a cloudy solution as the alcohol is converted to the water insoluble alkyl chloride by a SN1 reaction. The secondary alcohol, 2-butanol, reacts after about 6.5 minutes. The primary alcohol, 1-butanol, does not react.

Keywords

Alcohols | Constitutional Isomers | Kinetics | Molecular Properties / Structure | Nucleophilic Substitution

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Alcohols


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