A-Level Chemistry Question Analysis Topic: Chemistry - Phenols
Explain the acidic nature of phenols and compare with that of alcohols.
Acid is any chemical that releases hydrogen ions when dissolved in water. Phenol undergoes dissociation when it is dissolved in water, producing hydrogen ions and phenoxide ions. Resonance, also known outside of the A-Level Chemistry as mesomerism, does a great job of stabilizing the phenoxide ion. Phenol is hence acidic.
Due to resonance's stabilization of the phenoxide ion, phenol is more acidic than alcohols. By stabilizing the phenoxide ion, the electron withdrawing group increases the acidity of phenol, whereas the electron releasing group decreases the acidity of phenol by destabilizing the phenoxide ion.
In light of this, phenol is more acidic than alcohol.
End of analysis. Great!