What is volatile ether or HCl

EtherEthers are organic compounds with the general structure R1-O-R2. Many active pharmaceutical ingredients and excipients belong to this group of substances. Ethers are also used as propellants in pharmacy, are contained in cold sprays and, due to their low reactivity, are used as solvents and extractants.

synonymous: ether, ether


Ethers are organic molecules with the general structure R1-O-R2, where R1 and R2 are identical for symmetrical ethers. The radicals can be aliphatic or aromatic.

Cyclic ethers exist such as tetrahydrofuran (THF).

For example, ethers can be produced using the Williamson synthesis:

  • R.1-X + R2-O-N / A+ → R1-O-R2 + NaX

X stands for halogens


The common names are formed with the suffix -ether, for example methylphenylether (anisole) or diethylether. The official nomenclature uses prefixes such as methoxy, ethoxy, and phenoxy.


The ethers include, for example:

  • Ethers are hydrogen bond acceptors, but not donors.
  • Ethers have low boiling points that are comparable to those of alkanes. The reason is weak intermolecular interactions. This, for example, in contrast to alcohols.
  • Low molecular weight ethers are water-soluble due to the formation of hydrogen bonds.
  • It must be noted that the lower ethers are volatile, highly flammable, explosive and heavier than air (experiment with the “ether gutter”).
  • It must also be noted that ethers such as diethyl ether can form explosive peroxides over time due to auto-oxidation.
  • Ethers can form complexes due to the free electrons of oxygen.

Ethers are generally chemically inert and less reactive than, for example, alcohols, amines and carboxylic acids. However, they can be protonated and cleaved with strong acids such as HI, HBr and HCl:

  • R-O-R (ether) + HI (hydrogen iodide) → R-OH (alcohol) + R-I (halide)

Reactivity: HI> HBr >> HCl

In pharmacy

Numerous active pharmaceutical ingredients and auxiliaries are ethers and simple ethers such as diethyl ether were used as anesthetics in the past.

Ethers such as dimethyl ether are used as propellants (propellant gases), for example for the production of foams. They are also found in cold sprays and are used for cryotherapy for warts.

In chemistry, ethers are used, among other things, as solvents and for extractions due to their low reactivity.

see also

Alcohols, esters

  • Medicinal product information
  • Specialist literature
  • Chemistry textbooks

Conflicts of Interest: None / Independent. The author has no relationships with the manufacturers and is not involved in the sale of the products mentioned.

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This article was last changed on 11/11/2020.
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