The key difference between ethyl nitrite and nitroethane is that in ethyl nitrite, one oxygen atom is attached to a carbon atom, and the other oxygen atom is attached to a nitrogen atom, whereas in nitroethane, both oxygen atoms are bonded to the nitrogen atom.
Ethyl nitrite and nitroethane have the same chemical formula: C2H5NO2. They are functional isomers. But there are several differences between ethyl nitrite and nitroethane.
What is Ethyl Nitrite?
Ethyl nitrite is a type of alkyl nitrite having the chemical formula C2H5NO2. It can be prepared from ethanol. The molar mass of this compound is 75.067 g/mol. It is poorly soluble in water, and its boiling point is 17 Celsius degrees.
We can use ethyl nitrite as a reagent with butanone to yield dimethylglyoxime as the end product. This compound is the main ingredient in a traditional ethanol-based remedy (for colds and coughs) named Witdulsies, which has a South African origin, and it is a remedy for cold and flu. In South Africa, it is even sold in pharmacies. However, it has been banned from being sold over the counter in the US (In the Us, it is known as sweet nitrite, sweet spirit, or nitrite) since 1980. This is because it is associated with fatal methemoglobinemia.
What is Nitroethane?
Nitroethane is an organic compound having the chemical formula C2H5NO2, which is similar to nitromethane in many ways. The molar mass of this compound is 75.067 g/mol. Nitroethane occurs as an oily liquid at the standard temperature and pressure conditions. However, pure nitroethane is colorless and has a fruity odor. It is slightly water-soluble, and it has a very low melting point (-90 degrees Celsius) and a high boiling point (112 degrees Celsius).
When considering the preparation of nitroethane, we can produce it industrially by treating propane with nitric acid at around 350-450 degrees Celsius. This is an exothermic reaction. It gives 4 important nitroalkanes: nitromethane, nitroethane, 1-nitropropane, and 2-nitropropane. Furthermore, this reaction involves free radicals, including the radical CH3CH2CH2O. This radical forms via hemolysis of the corresponding nitrite ester. This is an alkoxy radical that is susceptible to C-C fragmentation reactions. This explains the formation of the mixture of products.
There are many important uses of nitroethane, including the conversion into other products during the Henry reaction, condensation to give oxazoline, as a fuel additive, and as a precursor to rocket propellants, etc.
What is the Difference Between Ethyl Nitrite and Nitroethane?
The key difference between ethyl nitrite and nitroethane is that in ethyl nitrite, one oxygen atom is attached to a carbon atom while the other oxygen atom is attached to a nitrogen atom, whereas in nitroethane, both oxygen atoms are bonded to the nitrogen atom. In addition, ethyl nitrite appears as a clear colorless to yellow liquid, while nitroethane is an oily liquid.
The below infographic presents the differences between ethyl nitrite and nitroethane in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Ethyl Nitrite vs Nitroethane
Ethyl nitrite and nitroethane are two chemical compounds with the same chemical formula. But the key difference between ethyl nitrite and nitroethane is their chemical structure; ethyl nitrite has one oxygen atom attached to a carbon atom and one oxygen atom attached to a nitrogen atom, but nitroethane has both oxygen atoms bonded to a nitrogen atom.
1. “Ethyl Nitrite.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine.