Credit: RHYS LEWIS & MINH TAN PHAM, AHS, DECD, UNISA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Oxidation reactions of a primary, secondary and tertiary alcohol. Alcohols are classed into three categories based on the number of R groups (carbon chains) bonded to the carbon atom which is itself bonded to the alcohol (-OH) group. Primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols have respectively one, two or three R groups attached to the carbon to which the OH group is attached. When a small amount of acidified dichromate solution (yellow) is added to a sample of each class of alcohol, both the primary and secondary alcohols will oxidise. The primary alcohol oxidises initially to an aldehyde and then to a carboxylic acid. The secondary alcohol oxidises to a ketone. Tertiary alcohols will not oxidise as they do not have a hydrogen atom on the -OH carbon that can be lost in the reaction. Oxidation can be categorised as a loss of hydrogen from a molecule. The colour change here is due to the yellow dichromate ions being reduced to green chromium (III).

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Keywords: adding, alcohol, alcohols, aldehyde, bench, carboxylic acid, chemical, chemistry, chromium, color, colour change, demonstrating, demonstration, dichromate, education, educational, glassware, isomer, isomers, ketone, lab, laboratory, oxidation, oxidising, pipette, pipetting, primary, reacting, reaction, reactions, school, science, secondary, structure, tertiary, test

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Oxidation of alcohols

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