Ester and ether are organic molecules with oxygen atoms. Both have the ether linkage which is –O-. Esters have the group –COO. One oxygen atom is bonded to carbon with a double bond, and the other oxygen is bonded with a single bond. Since only three atoms are connected to the carbon atom, it has a trigonal planar geometry around it. Further, the carbon atom is sp2hybridized.
The carboxyl group is a widely occurring functional group in chemistry and biochemistry. This group is the parent of the related family of compounds known as acyl compounds. Acyl compounds are also known as carboxylic acid derivatives. Ester is a carboxylic acid derivative like that. The compound ester possesses a carbon-carbonyl-oxygen bond, while the ether compound has a carbon-oxygen-carbon bond.
What is Ester?
Esters have a general formula of RCOOR’. Esters are made by the reaction between a carboxylic acid with an alcohol. Esters are named by writing the names of the alcohol derived part first. Then the name derived from the acid part is written with the ending –ate or –oate.
What is Ether?
Ethers have the functional group ROR e.g. Ethoxypropane. Ether is a compound that has a carbon oxygen-carbon bond. Ethers can be produced by intermolecular dehydration of alcohols. This usually takes place at a lower temperature than dehydration to the alkene.
Key Differences between Ester and Ether
- Esters are carboxylic acid derivatives and have the group –COO. Ethers have the –O- functional group.
- Ester has a carbonyl group adjacent to the –O- oxygen, but ether doesn’t have such.
- Esters have so many characteristic smells.
- Esters are easily hydrolyzed to produce alcohol and a carboxylic acid in contrast to ethers.
- Esters have the functional group RCOOR with a C double bond to one of the Os and a single bond to the other O. e.g. Ethyl Ethanoate. Whereas Ethers have the functional group ROR e.g. Ethoxypropane
- Ether is a compound that has a carbon oxygen-carbon bond. An example of ether is an ethoxylate. The compound below is laureth 5. An ester, on the other hand, is a compound that has a carbon-carbonyl-oxygen carbon bond.
- The primary characteristic that distinguishes ester from the ether is their differing structure. The compound known as ester possesses a carbon-carbonyl-oxygen bond, while the ether compound has a carbon-oxygen-carbon bond.
- Esters are polar compounds, but they don’t have the capability to form strong hydrogen bonds to each other due to the lack of hydrogen-bonded to oxygen. As a result, esters have lower boiling points compared to acids or alcohols with similar molecular weights. Ethers can be produced by intermolecular dehydration of alcohols. This usually takes place at a lower temperature than dehydration to the alkene. Williamson synthesis is another method to produce unsymmetrical ethers.