Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Synthesizing Ethyl Acetate by Fisher Esterification


Esters compose an important class of organic compounds. Esters often have a pleasant scent and are found in natural fragrances. Esters can be prepared synthetically for use in foods, flavorings, and perfumes. Ethyl acetate is often used as a primary solvent in non-acetone fingernail polish remover.

The esterification process produces esters through a condensation reaction. Condensation reactions have water as one of the products. The starting compounds for esters are an alcohol and an acid (either an organic or an inorganic acid). A catalyst, such as concentrated acid or an ion‑exchange resin, is added to accelerate the reaction. This reaction will not go to completion, but instead reaches equilibrium after a given amount of time. Using Le Chatelier’s Principle, the equilibrium can be shifted toward the product by adding more reactants or removing products.


In this experiment, you will

  • Conduct an esterification reaction to produce ethyl acetate.
  • Measure and analyze the GC retention times of the reactants and products involved in synthesizing ethyl acetate.
  • Measure and analyze the GC retention times of the reaction mixture to confirm the production of ethyl acetate.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Organic Chemistry with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Determining Melting Temperature
3Determination of a Boiling Point
4Identifying an Unknown Analgesic by Three Methods
5Separation of Organic Compounds by Acid-Base Extraction Techniques
6Understanding Polarimetry
7Identification of Organic Unknowns Using Polarimetry
8Investigating Gas Chromatography
9Fractional Distillation of Esters
10Understanding Intermolecular Forces Using a Gas Chromatograph: Enthalpy of Vaporization
11Investigating Thermodynamic Relationships of Substituted Hydrocarbons
12Extraction of Spinach Pigments and Analysis by Electronic Absorption Spectroscopy
13SN1: Synthesis of t-butyl chloride
14SN2: Synthesis of 1-bromobutane
15Observing the Reaction Kinetics of Sucrose with Polarimetry
16The Synthesis and Analysis of Aspirin
17Isolation of R-(+)-Limonene from Oranges using Steam Distillation
18Synthesizing Ethyl Acetate by Fisher Esterification
19Synthesis of Dibenzalacetone by Aldol Condensation
20The Diels-Alder Reaction of Anthracene with Maleic Anhydride
21Friedel-Crafts Acylation of Ferrocene
22Grignard Formation of Crystal Violet
23Synthesis of Fluorescein
24Synthesis of Methyl Orange and Its Application to Textiles
25Analysis of Natural Products
26Using a Gas Chromatograph: Identifying an Unknown Compound

Experiment 18 from Organic Chemistry with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Organic Chemistry with Vernier</i> book cover

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