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For example the reaction of ethanoic acid with ethanol is reversible, however is this true for all esters? I'm not quite whether it is as easy for a reversible reaction to occur both ways. Is there a limit to the complexity an ester can be? What would be the general mechanism for these reactions? I assume there is no limit on the complexity (carbon chain length) of esters, other than the frequency of longer-chain carboxylic acids and alcohols needed to form them. Is this true?

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    $\begingroup$ Could you please clarify the question referring to complexity? $\endgroup$
    – John Snow
    Oct 12, 2014 at 23:53

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I'll start this answer off with saying that both of these answers were the first result when searching for Google.

Yes, The esterification reaction is both slow and reversible

and here is the mechanism from an image search

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you also know whether esterification takes longer/ is more difficult with longer-chain carboxylic acids and alcohols? $\endgroup$
    – Resquiens
    Oct 15, 2014 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ Yes the rate of the mechanism slows with the size of the reactants. $\endgroup$
    – John Snow
    Oct 15, 2014 at 15:07

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