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Ethanol is a polar compound because it has carbon on one side and hydroxyl group on the other side. This makes two attached groups pose a huge electronegativity difference. This makes chemists believe that ethanol is a polar compound.

A question that is asked frequently by our readers is whether ethanol is polar or nonpolar. In this article, we are going to answer this frequently asked question with reasoning. But before, let's recall the ethanol introduction and what are polar and Nonpolar compounds?

Introduction of Ethanol

Ethanol is one of the most common and highly used chemical compounds having the formula C2H5OH. Almost all of us have used it in one way or another, in the form of alcohol. When used in a pure state, it appears as a colorless liquid with a special odor. Let’s find out more about polar compounds and nonpolar compounds.

Also read how can we see all four colors from a hydrogen gas discharge tube.

What are Polar Compounds?

Polar compounds, as the name implies, are those having two charge poles on either end (negative and positive charges). These poles are formed by the unequal charge distribution among the atoms, present in the molecule. Remember that the molecules forming polar covalent bonds are those which comprise atoms having huge electronegativity differences.

Due to this electronegativity difference, one atom attracts the shared pair of subatomic particle i.e. electrons more strongly towards itself, forming a partially negative charge. On the other hand, the atom having a shared pair of electrons at a far distance develops a partial positive charge on it. Examples of polar compounds are OF2 and SCl2.

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What are Nonpolar Compounds?

Nonpolar compounds are those which do not contain any charge poles in them. In other words, the charges among all the atoms, in these molecules, are shared equally and due to this, the dipole moment of such Nonpolar molecules is always zero.

These types of molecules contain atoms with similar or nearly similar electronegativity differences. In this way, every atom attracts the shared pair of electrons towards themselves equally, and thus, no charge develops on any atom. Examples of Nonpolar compounds are Br2 and Hexane.

Related: Find out the polymer of carbohydrates.

Ethanol: Polar or Nonpolar?

According to chemists, ethanol is a polar compound since on one side, it has carbon while the other end of the compound contains a hydroxyl group. In this way, two groups attached at either side of the compounds possess a huge electronegativity difference between them.

Also, the electronegativity difference between a hydrogen atom and an oxygen atom is huge (in hydroxyl group) which makes the ethanol a polar compound. If you don't know, then the electronegativity of hydrogen atoms is 2.2 while the electronegativity of oxygen atoms is 3.44.

As oxygen is more electronegative, it attracts the shared pair of bonded electrons towards itself more strongly and develops a partial negative charge, and hydrogen gains a positive charge. In this way, one end of the compound becomes partially negative while the other end gets partially positive.

Related: Learn all about the structure of pentane isomers.

Other Properties of Ethanol

  1. At standard temperature and pressure, ethyl alcohol or ethanol is always a colorless liquid.
  2. Ethanol's molecular mass is 46.069 g/mol.
  3. Ethanol is a highly flammable and volatile chemical compound - especially in a pure state.
  4. The melting point of ethanol I'd extremely low, around -114°C. On the other hand, its boiling point is 78.24 °C.
  5. Since ethanol is a polar compound, it acts as a very good solvent, especially in water-based chemical reactions.
  6. Ethanol is about 20% lighter than water due to having less density of around 789 g/l.
  7. In the compound of ethanol, a covalent bond is formed among the atoms which discard free ions. Due to this, ethanol is not a very good heat or electricity conductor.
  8. According to the formula of solubility (like dissolves like), ethanol, being polar, is highly soluble in water.

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Conclusion

Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is a chemical compound having one hydroxyl group attached to a two-carbon chain. Due to the electronegativity difference between hydrogen and oxygen atoms, this hydroxyl group, present at one end of the compound becomes polar, making the whole molecule polar. Due to being polar, the molecule also possesses a non-zero dipole moment which confirms that ethanol is polar.

Thus this is all about the polar or non-polar discussion of ethanol. We hoped you liked the efforts of equation balancer. You can also find the ways to calibrate a pipette as well as vacuum filtration setup in the blog section of this website. Thus keep attach with Equation balancer to learn more educational blogs as well as chemistry tools.

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