I am having a doubt in here that NaOH reacts with methanol but not with ethanol.

Theoretically my instructor on chemistry says that the conjugate base of ethanol would be stronger than NaOH.

But I can see in many websites that the reaction is given(reaction of CH4 and NaOH).

Also a side question to this is CH4,C2H6 will not react with NaOH. Is there any reason other than full saturation CH4 and C2H6.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You are mixing up alcohols and alkanes (CH4, C2H6). Please get your nomenclature right. Also this is a homework question. Please show why you think one reacts and the other not. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Feb 8 '18 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ Compare the basic strengths of $\ce{EtO^-}$, $\ce{MeO^-}$ and $\ce{HO^-}$. $\endgroup$ Feb 8 '18 at 7:04

Just because one can write down the reaction equation (as you have read in those websites) doesn't mean it takes place to any considerable extent. Yes, ethanol and NaOH do theoretically react as in $\ce{EtOH + NaOH \to EtO^-Na+ + H2O}$, but can you observe this reaction in practice? The answer lies in the thermodynamics of the reaction: the equilibrium is severely shifted to the left, so the reaction as written is almost irrelevant. Conversely, methanol ionization does present a measurable equilibrium constant at appropriate conditions.


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