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Exercise 2

Volatility: Distillation and Determination of Boiling Point

Glister Diadem A. Dollera – 201808525

Chem 31.1—Section EF

BS Biology 1


Volatility describes how a substance easily vaporize or turn into gaseous state. This exercise was
carried-out in order to deepen the students’ skills and understanding regarding the different
volatilities of ccompounds. The volatility of various compounds, namely, acetone, methanol, ethyl
acetate, 1-butanol, and water was examined by simply allowing them to evaporate in an open area
and record the time consumed upon evaporating completely. Furthermore, a simple distillation set-
up was made in order to examine the boiling point of water and to separate substances in a mixture.
Results show that among the 5 compounds, Acetone evaporates easily, and thus having the highest
volatility. It is then followed by Methyl acetate, Methanol, 1Butanol, and lastly water. Moreover,
the boiling point of water during the distillation process ranges from 99-104 oC. 15 ml distillate
was collected and there were no obvious residue observed. Based on the results, it can be inferred
that compounds with weaker intermolecular forces, lesser molar mass, and lesser surface area
(more branched compounds) have higher volatility or evaporates easily. Furthermore,
understanding the volatilities of different compounds is important since it is the vital property to
be considered when separating two substances or mixtures of liquids in the process of distillation.
I. Introduction

Organic compounds have various properties. Examining their properties is vital on

acquiring better understanding on how these organic compounds behaves or react under certain
circumstances or conditions. In connection, this exercise focuses on examining one important
property of organic compounds—its volatility.

Volatility, as defined by Dagayloan (2019) in Chem 31.1 Lab manual, is “the relative ease
with which a substance passes from liquid to the gaseous state”. In other words, it is the substance’
tendency to vaporize which is commonly observed on liquids. In the process, individual molecules
need to break-away from other molecule, and maintain the vigorous movement like gas particles.
Vapor pressure, the measure of the amount of gas contained above the surface, has direct
relationship with temperature.

Another terms that are also associated to volatility are the Evaporation and Boiling.
Evaporation is a slow volatilization, a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs from
the surface of a liquid into a gaseous phase. On the other hand, boiling is fast vaporization. It is
characterize by bumping of molecules and formation of vapor pressure while still in water that
resulted to turbulence.

The principle of volatility can be used on separating two liquids in mixtures. And this done
through the process of vaporizing a liquid and cooling it down to convert the vapor to liquid state,
this process is called distillation.

In this exercise, students compared the volatilities of different organic compounds

provided. Furthermore, a demonstration of simple distillation set-up was made in order to deepen
the students’ understanding regarding the separation of two components of a mixture of 2 liquids.
II. Results and Discussion


Table 2.1. Volatilities of Different substances

Compounds Time Exposed (PM) Time Completed Minutes Elapsed

Acetone 3:00 3:01 1 min
Methanol 2:49 3:10 20 min 48 sec
Ethyl Acetate 2:49 2:51 1 min 58 sec
1-Butanol 2:45 3:06 20 min 49 sec
Water 2:45 3:11 25+ min

Shown in Table 2.1 are the volatilities of different compounds derived from this exercise.
Their volatilities were determined by placing a drop of each compound on a watch glass and
leaving it in an open area while allowing them to evaporate. The duration or time elapsed of each
compound before it totally evaporated is the determining factor of their volatility. Compounds that
evaporates easily are more volatile than those who do otherwise.

As presented in Table 2, Acetone evaporated first. It was then followed by Ethyl acetate,
Methanol, 1-Butanol, and water, respectively. However, acetone and Ethyl acetate don’t have that
large gap of evaporation duration and Methanol and 1Butanol has almost same duration.

The volatility of the substances observed are affected by several factors. These factors are
the intermolecular forces, molecular weight, and surface area. According to (rrrr) Intermolecular
forces has something to do with volatility because it is the ones responsible on the bond breaking
of the molecules. Those molecules that have lesser intermolecular forces, breaks easily, evaporates
easily, and thus, referred to as having high volatility. On the other hand, molecules that have strong
intermolecular forces, do otherwise.

As observed in this exercise, acetone evaporates quickly because it has weak

intermolecular forces of attraction than the rest of the compounds. Basing its structure,
CH3COCH3, it does not have O-H bond and it cannot form hydrogen bond with its identical
molecule. Thus, it has weaker intermolecular forces, yielding to high vapor pressure, which means
lower boiling point and high volatility. Molecules of Acetone can easily break away from each
other as separate in a gaseous form. It is the first member of ketone group. According to National
Pollutant Inventory (2018), acetone is considered a highly volatile organic compound. It is highly
flammable and used to dissolve chemical substances. It has a boiling point of 56.5oC and melting
point of -94 oC.

After acetone evaporated (1 min), ethyl acetate immediately followed (1 min & 58 sec). It
is notable that the structure of ethyl acetate (CH3OOCH2CH3) is more likely the same with the
structure of acetone. It does not also have O-H bond and cannot form Hydrogen bond with other
identical molecule. However, Ethyl acetate has stronger intermolecular forces than the acetone
because it has greater molecular mass and surface area. Organic compound of almost same
component but has greater surface area and molecular mass tends to have stronger intermolecular
forces that those compounds with lesser one. According to Mithoron (2015), Volatility decreases
with increase in relative molecular mass. That is, it decreases down a homologous series.

Compounds belonging to the functional group Alcohol evaporated next after Ethyl acetate.
The gap between the evaporation time of Ethyl acetate and alcohol group is quiet large. Based on
the exercise, the next more volatile substance is the Methanol and then followed by 1Butanol.
Although both compounds belong to alcohol group and can form hydrogen bond—which is a
strong intermolecular force—they still have different volatility. The main driving factor that made
them distinct from each other is their molecular weight and their surface area. Methanol (CH3OH)
has only one carbon and has a molar mass of 32.04 g/mol, whereas, 1-Butanol
(CH3CH2CH2CH2OH), has 4 carbons and has a molar mass of 74.12 g/mol. From these data, we
can then conclude that 1Butanol has stronger molecular forces that the methanol, thus, it did not
evaporate immediately.

The last compound observed was water, the group did not wait for it to evaporate since it
will take much time because of its chemical composition. Among the 5 compounds observed,
water is extremely non-volatile. The main reason for this is because it has the strongest
intermolecular forces. Its molecules cannot be broken easily. It can form hydrogen bond with each
other that resist the tendencies of individual molecules to enter the gaseous state. Water molecules
take more energy to break the molecules apart. (Siyavula, n.d)

The arrangement of compounds from most volatile to least volatile would be as follows:
Acetone, Ethyl acetate, Methanol, 1-Butanol, and water. Intermolecular forces, molecular weight,
and surface area are the main factors that affect the volatility of these compounds. Volatility has
inverse relationship with these factors. This means that higher Intermolecular forces, molecular
weight, and surface area, results to lower volatility of a compound. Since the water did not
evaporate on this set up, it means that it needs boiling or higher temperature exposure in order to
break its bond, and it is done on the next set-up, the distillation process in which it undergoes

Table 2.2. Simple Distillation and boiling point of water

Volume of 1 drop 3 ml 6 ml 9 ml 12 ml 15 ml
T of Vapour, oC 99 99 100 101 102 104
Boiling point range of water: 99-104 oC

As mentioned earlier, distillation is the process of separating a mixture of liquids through

heating the components until they separate due to their different boiling points. The substance with
lowest boiling point evaporates first. The gas is then condensed back into liquid form and collected
into a receiving vessel and the product obtained is known as the distillate. Those substances having
a higher boiling point remain in the flask and constitute the residue. (Helmenstein, 2018)

In this exercise, the original tap water was taken from the Laboratory faucet. The water
from the faucet was believed as safe for drinking. It appears clear and no suspended solids were
noted. However, after the distillation process, the distillate appears clearer than the original tap
water. It looks safer for drinking. There were few but not so obvious particles or residue left on
the distillation flask.
Based on the experiment carried, the first drop of distillate was obtained when the
temperature reached 99 oC. This means that the water was already boiling before it reached 100
C. It is universally known that the water’s normal boiling point is 100 oC. In this exercise, there

were already 6ml distillate obtained before the temperature was raised to 100oC. This small
difference with the universally known boiling point of water might have been brought by few
fluctuations on instrument reading. Furthermore, according to Tom (2007), if the water is pure,
boils on the normal boiling point 100 oC. However, the boiling point is not constant, it also depends
on the elevation of the water being boiled. In this case, we can infer that the water may not be pure,
but we cannot say that it is due to elevation since we were located on the normal elevation.

Anyway, back to the exercise done, the temperature kept on raising as the original water
was heated. Along with the raise of the temperature is also the raise of the vapor pressure and the
additional distillate. When the collected distillate reached 15 ml, the students ended the distillation
process, and it was recorded that the temperature reached the peak of 104 oC throughout the
distillation process. The boiling point range of water is 99-104 oC.

III. Conclusion

Characteristics and properties of various compounds differ depending on their

composition, structures, and forces acting upon them. In terms of volatility, compounds with
weaker intermolecular forces, lesser molar mass, and lesser surface area (more branched
compounds) have higher volatility or evaporates easily. In cases of water, it will not evaporate
when left on normal temperature, it needs to be boiled or exposed to higher temperature in order
to break its strong bond. Furthermore, higher volatilities means lower boiling point, and vice versa.
Understanding the volatilities of compounds is important since it is the vital property to be
considered when separating two mixtures of liquids in the process of distillation.
IV. References

Dagayloan, W. (2019). Chem 31.1 Laboratory Manual. “Exercise #2”

Helmenstein, A. (2019). Distillation: Chemistry definition. Retrieved from: https://www.

Mithoron, N. (2015). Rules on determining volatility. Retrieved from: https://chemistry.

National Pollutant Inventory. (2018). Acetone. Retrieved from:


Siyavula. (n.d). The Chemistry of water. Retrieved from:


Tom. (2007). Boiling Point of Water. Retrieved from: https://van.physics.illinois.