• Alcohols contain the functional group –OH.

Methanol, ethanol, propanol and butanol are the first four members of a homologous series of alcohols.

Alcohols can be represented in the following forms: CH3CH2OH


Students should be able to:

  • describe what happens when any of the first four alcohols react with sodium, burn in air, are added to water, react with an oxidising agent
  • recall the main uses of these alcohols.
  • Aqueous solutions of ethanol are produced when sugar solutions are fermented using yeast.
  • Students should know the conditions used for fermentation of sugar using yeast.
  • Students should be able to recognise alcohols from their names or from given formulae.
  • Students do not need to know the names of individual alcohols other than methanol, ethanol, propanol and butanol.
  • Students are not expected to write balanced chemical equations for the reactions of alcohols other than for combustion reactions.

AT 2 Safe use of appropriate heating devices and techniques including use of a Bunsen burner and a water bath or electric heater (links to A-level AT b)

AT 5 Making and recording of appropriate observations during chemical reactions including changes in temperature and the measurement of rates of reaction by a variety of methods such as production of gas and colour change (links to A-level AT a and l).

AT 6 Safe use and careful handling of gases, liquids and solids, including careful mixing of reagents under controlled conditions, using appropriate apparatus to explore chemical changes and/or products (links to A-level AT a and k).