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Reactive Group Datasheet

Ethers

What are reactive groups?

Reactive groups are categories of chemicals that typically react in similar ways because they are similar in their chemical structure. Each substance with a chemical datasheet has been assigned to one or more reactive groups, and CAMEO Chemicals uses the reactive group assignments to make its reactivity predictions. More Info...

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There are 390 chemical datasheets assigned to this reactive group.

Description

Flammability
Low-molecular-weight ethers are flammable gases (dimethyl ether) or liquids (methyl ethyl ether or diethyl ether) that can produce explosive mixtures when they evaporate and mix with air. Ethers form peroxides if exposed to oxygen or air during storage; the ether peroxides can detonate with friction, shock, or heat, releasing enough energy to start a secondary fire in the unperoxidized ether.
Reactivity
Ethers tend to form unstable peroxides when exposed to oxygen. Ethyl, isobutyl, ethyl tert-butyl, and ethyl tert-pentyl ether are particularly hazardous in this respect. Ether peroxides can sometimes be observed as clear crystals, which can be shock sensitive, deposited on containers or along the surface of the liquid. Ethers usually act as weak Lewis bases. They form salts with strong acids and addition complexes with Lewis acids. The complex between diethyl ether and boron trifluoride is an example. Ethers may react violently with strong oxidizing agents. In other reactions, which typically involve the breaking of the carbon-oxygen bond, ethers are relatively unreactive.
Toxicity
As a group, ethers are moderately toxic. The lower-molecular weight ethers are powerful rapid-acting narcotics by inhalation. Toxic effects from these compounds are usually acute, not chronic. Swallowing one to two ounces of a liquid ether may be fatal.
Other Characteristics
Ethers contain an oxygen atom bonded to two organic groups, that is, they have general formula R-O-R', where the R and R' represent organic groups. Ethers are prepared by the Williamson synthesis (the reaction of a metallic alkoxide with an alkyl halide) and also by the reaction of alkyl hydrogen sulfates with alcohols. This amounts to the mixing of alcohols with sulfuric acid and heating. This process gives ethers as co-products in the preparation of alcohols from olefins in the presence of H2SO4.
Examples
Phenyl ether, ethyl ether, allyl ethyl ether, anisidine, anisole, butyl methyl ether, butyl vinyl ether, diallyl ether, isopropyl ether, divinyl ether, methyl ether, isobutyl.

Reactivity Documentation

Click on the links below to see how this reactive group is predicted to react when it is mixed with one of the 64 reactive groups. A variety of documentation about that reactive group pair will be displayed, including predicted hazards, predicted gas byproducts, and background materials and references used to make the predictions.

Mix Ethers with: