Q:

Is alcohol polar or nonpolar?

A:

The polarity of a specific alcohol can depend on the length of the carbon and hydrogen chains formed, such that an alcohol with a very long chain can exhibit more nonpolar characteristics. The alcohol or hydroxyl (-OH) group can have compounds that are very polar like methanol and ethanol, while another like hexanol is more nonpolar than polar.

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This is because the chain length increases when comparing methanol and hexanol. However, there is still a small polar effect evident in hexanol. Methanol and ethanol are soluble in water.

To find if an alcohol is polar or tends to be nonpolar, students can use the rule that if the ratio between carbon and oxygen in the compound is less than 4:1, then the alcohol compound is miscible in water and so it is polar.

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