Ethanol vs Ethanoic Acid: Difference and Comparison

People confuse Ethanol and Ethanoic acid because of the similarity in their names. Except for this, the only common link between both is their physical state. Both are in liquid form and are colourless. Other than these two factors, both acids have many differences. 

Ethanol is simply alcohol that is a flammable and volatile liquid and also an alternative fuel source. It is a psychoactive substance as a recreational drug and an active ingredient in alcoholic drinks.

Contrarily, Ethanoic acid is the succeeding carboxylic acid to the formic acid. Globally, its demand is up to 6.5 million metric tons per year.

Their density, smell, flavour, boiling, and melting points everything differs from one another. The molecular formula of ethanol is C2H5OH, and ethanoic acid is CH3COOH.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ethanol is an alcohol with the chemical formula C2H5OH, while ethanoic acid is a carboxylic acid with CH3COOH.
  2. Ethanol is a colorless liquid with a slight odor commonly used as a fuel and solvent. At the same time, ethanoic acid is a colorless liquid with a strong odor commonly used in vinegar production.
  3. Ethanol has a lower boiling point than ethanoic acid, making it easier to evaporate and less acidic than ethanoic acid.

Ethanol vs Ethanoic Acid

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, is a colourless, flammable liquid that is commonly used as a solvent, fuel, and in alcoholic beverages. Its chemical formula is C2H5OH. Ethanoic acid, also known as acetic acid, is a clear, colourless liquid that has a sharp, pungent odor. Its chemical formula is CH3COOH. 

Ethanol vs Ethanoic Acid
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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonEthanol Ethanoic Acid
IUPAC NameThe International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) name of Ethanol is the same as it is called.International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) name of an Ethanoic acid is an Acetic acid.
Molecular FormulaeIts molecular formula is C2H5OH.Its molecular formula is CH3COOH.
Density0.789 g/cm31.05 g/cm3
OdourIt has a pleasant perfume-like odour.It has a pungent or vinegar-smelling odour.
TasteIt is Burning and Bitter.It is Sour.
Boiling PointsIt has a boiling point of 78.37 ℃ or 173.1℉.It has a boiling point of 117.9 ℃ or 244.2 ℉.
Melting PointsIt has a melting point of -114.1 ℃ or -173.5℉.It has a melting point of 16.6 ℃ or 61.9 ℉.
Functional  GroupIt has alcohol (-OH) as a functional group.It has carboxylic acid (-OOH) as a functional group.
Existence of other  GroupsEthyl and Hydroxyl groups exist in Ethanol.Methyl and Carboxyl groups exist in Ethanol.
The Litmus Paper TestIt exhibits a 7.33 pH scale at a concentration.It exhibits a 2 to 4 pH scale at a concentration.
NaHCO3 TestIt does not react with sodium bicarbonate.It reacts with sodium bicarbonate and releases CO2 gas.
Easter TestIt forms Ester only after reacting with the presence of ethanoic acid.It forms Ester after reacting with the presence of Sulphuric acid.
Molar Mass46.07 g/mol60.052 g/mol
Used ForIt can be used as a sterilizing agent or for making alcoholic beverages.It can be used as a toilet cleaner or for making vinegar.

What is Ethanol?

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) name of Ethanol is the same as it is called.

Its molecular formula is ‘C2H5OH,’ and Its density is 0.789 g/cm3. It has a bitter, burning taste and a pleasant perfume-like odour. It can be used as a sterilizing agent or for making alcoholic beverages.

The molar mass of this acid is 46.07 g/mol. The melting point of Ethanol is  -114.1 ℃ or -173.5℉. And its boiling point is 78.37 ℃ or 173.1℉. During fermentation, ethanol forms using yeasts such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae or Schizo-saccharomyces.

The Litmus Paper Test exhibits a 7.33 pH (potential of hydrogen) scale. It does not react with sodium bicarbonate. It forms Ester only after a reaction with the presence of ethanoic acid. It has alcohol (-OH) as a functional group. Other than this, there are Ethyl and Hydroxyl groups that exist.

ethanol

What is Ethanoic Acid? 

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) name of an Ethanoic acid is an Acetic acid. It has a sour taste and pungent or vinegar-smelling odour. Its molecular formula is ‘CH3COOH,’ and Its density is 1.05 g/cm3. It can be used as a toilet cleaner or for making vinegar.

It exhibits a 2-4 pH (potential of hydrogen) scale in the Litmus Paper Test. It reacts with sodium bicarbonate and releases CO2 gas. It also forms Ester after reaction with the presence of Sulphuric acid.

It has carboxylic acid (-OOH) as a functional group. Other than this, there are Methyl and Carboxyl groups that exist. 

The molar mass of this acid is 60.052 g/mol. While fermenting, Acetobacter bacteria form Ethanoic acid. When Ethanoic acid passes through the lime liquid, it becomes opaque and becomes CO2 gas. Its boiling point is 17.9 ℃ or 244.2 ℉. And the melting point is 16.6 ℃ or 61.9 ℉. 

ethanoic acid

Main Differences Between Ethanol and Ethanoic Acid 

  1. The Molecular Formula of Ethanol is C2H5OH, whereas Ethanoic acid is CH3COOH.
  2. 0.789 g/cm3 is the density of ethanol, while 1.05 g/cm3 is ethanoic acid.
  3. The first has a pleasant perfume-like odour. On the contrary, the second has a pungent or vinegar-smelling odour.
  4. The ethyl tastes little burning and bitter. The acetic acid tastes sour.
  5. Ethanol’s boiling point is 78.37 ℃ or 173.1℉. Conversely, Ethanoic acid’s 117.9 ℃ or 244.2 ℉.
  6. The melting point of the first is -114.1 ℃ or -173.5℉. On the other hand, the second one’s 16.6 ℃ or 61.9 ℉.
  7. The previous has alcohol (-OH) as a functional group. Contrarily, the succeeding has a carboxylic acid (-OOH).
  8. The ethanol exhibits a 7.33 pH scale in the litmus paper test, whereas ethanoic acid exhibits a 2 to 4 pH scale.
  9. The former does not react with sodium bicarbonate. Conversely, the latter does react and release CO2 gas.
  10. The molar mass of ethanol is 46.07 g/mol, while the molar mass of ethanoic acid is 60.052 g/mol.
References
  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/je300810p 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775301010679 
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022328X04004668 

This article has been written by: Supriya Kandekar

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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