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Butanol: Structure, Boiling Point & Density

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over the structure, boiling point, density as well as other properties of an alcohol called butanol. You'll also learn why it's an alcohol in the first place.

Butanol

Can you name an alcohol? If you just shouted out a brand name of some 21+ substance, then you were thinking of ethanol, or drinking alcohol. Maybe you went another route and shouted out methanol, or wood alcohol. Ethanol and methanol are by far and away the most famous and familiar types of alcohols. However, they are nowhere near the only ones.

One other type of alcohol is called butanol, and you're about to learn why it is an alcohol and some properties of it as well in this lesson.

Structure

So what makes butanol an alcohol? Check out its two-dimensional structure in this lesson's image. Do you see the hydroxyl, or '-OH' group attached to one end? The O stands for oxygen, and the H stands for hydrogen. Keep this hydroxyl group in mind for a second.

The 2D structure of butanol
b

Do you see the lines in the two-dimensional structure? Each line represents a chemical bond between two atoms. The point at where two lines meet in this 2D structure, lies a carbon (C) atom. When a hydroxyl group is attached to a carbon atom of an alkyl group, you get an alcohol. And since this is exactly what happens with butanol. This is why it's also an alcohol.

Properties

Butanol has all sorts of properties. Its molecular weight is 74.123 g/mol. Its density is 0.8098 at 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Butanol melts at a very cold -88.6 degrees Celsius. This is -127.48 degrees Fahrenheit. It boils at 117.6 degrees Celsius, which is 243.68 degrees Fahrenheit.

At room temperature, butanol is a colorless liquid. It gives off a pungent and mildly alcoholic smell. Other have described its odor as rancid but sweet or even as a harsh alcoholic smell mixed with banana! That should be easy to remember since 'b'anana and 'b'utanol start with the same letter.

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