Carboxylic acids

Carboxylic acids all contain the carboxyl group (-COOH). When naming carboxylic acids, the same rules as before are followed, but the position of the carboxyl group does not need to be identified, as it is always on C1.

For example, propanoic acid (CH3CH2COOH)

Propanoic acid (C2H5COOH) has structural formula of carbon atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms, joined to carbon with two hydrogens, joined to carbon with hydroxyl group and double-bonded to oxygen.

Carboxylic acids with branches can also be named following the rules.

The longest carbon chain in the molecule below contains four carbon atoms. As the carbon of the carboxyl group is the first of the chain, then both branches are on the third carbon.

3,3-dimethylbutanoic acid has structural formula of carbon atom bonded to three methyl groups, joined to carbon with two hydrogens, joined to carbon with hydroxyl group double-bonded to oxygen atom.

This molecule is therefore called 3,3-dimethylbutanoic acid.

Reactions of carboxylic acids

Carboxylic acids can undergo reduction reactions. Reduction is the opposite of oxidation.

For example, ethanoic acid (CH3COOH) can be formed by the oxidation of ethanol as shown below.

Ethanoic acid formation

As reduction is the opposite of oxidation, it can be defined as the removal of oxygen or the addition of hydrogen to a molecule.

Ethanoic acid reduction

Carboxylic acids can also react with bases to form a salt and water in neutralisation reactions. When long chain 'fatty' acids are used, the salt formed is a soap.

For example:

C_{17}H_{33}COOH  +  NaOH \rightarrow  C_{17}H_{33}COONa  +  H_{2}O