organic chemicals

Organic chemicals: I have been asked to purchase examples of esters, amides, amines, alkanes and alkenes.

Can someone recommend which of these chemicals are best for school use please?

I have looked on the ASSIST Page of Recommended Chemicals, but I'm still confused as to which would be the best ones to purchase for use by Year 12 students.

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Publication Date: 18 August 2016
Asked By: Anonymous
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organic chemicals

It is important that a full risk assessment is conducted considering the proposed use of all chemicals prior to their purchase.

All of the types of chemicals that you have mentioned are considered different functional groups of organic chemicals.1,2 

In the absence of any knowledge of the particular curriculum purpose or activity for these chemicals, we make the following comments considering the chemicals that we have included in our List of recommended chemicals for science in Australian schools.

  • Esters: These are often manufactured in the school laboratory3, however, we have sixteen esters included in our list. A common ester is ethyl acetate.
  • Amides: We have one amide included in our list, which is acetanilide
  • Amines: tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane (Tris) is a primary amine and is used for preparing buffers.  Hexane-1,6-diamine has two amine groups and is often used in making nylon in school activities. See Making Nylon. You may consider using an amino acid such as histidine or lysine, depending upon what you are planning on using it for. If you would like to suggest adding an amino acid to the list, please let us know.
  • Alkanes and alkenes: These are both in the family of non-halogenated hydrocarbons4. We have nine chemicals in this group. The names of alkanes typically end in 'ane' and alkenes end in 'ene'. A common alkane used in schools is cyclohexane and a common alkene used in schools is cyclohexene.

Alternative activity: using molecular models is safe way to show the structure of different functional groups of organic chemicals.4


'Organic functional groups'. Chemistry drills website, (Accessed August 2016)

'Ball, David, W; Hill, John, W and Scott, Rhonda, J. 2011. ‘Section 4.6 Introduction to Organic Chemistry' in Introduction to Chemistry: General, Organic and Biological, Lard Bucket website,

'Carboxylic acids and esters, making an ester' BBC website, (Accessed August 2016)

4 'Alkanes and alkenes', BBC website. (Accessed August 2016)

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