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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 29 (2024) pp 47-50

Identifying Unknown Analgesics: An Introductory Experiment for Organic Chemistry Laboratory

Angela Zhou and Xiaolei Gao*,‡

Bridgewater-Raritan High School, 600 Garretson Road. Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807; ,‡School of Natural Sciences, College of Natural, Behavioral and Health Sciences, Caldwell University, 120 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell, NJ 07006,
Received August 14, 2023. Accepted January 4, 2024.

Published: 31 January 2024

Abstract. We designed a new introductory experiment for organic chemistry laboratory using the four most common over-the-counter (OTC) oral analgesics. This experiment allows students to make connections to several fundamental concepts they learn in organic chemistry: from the prevalence of organic compounds in medicine, what defines organic acid, how to predict acid-base reactions from pKa values, and the solubility rule, to the common functional groups of an organic compound and their polarity. Students will also get their first exposure to basic techniques in organic chemistry laboratories such as extraction, thin layer chromatography, column chromatography, filtration, rotary evaporation (vacuum distillation), and melting point determination.

Key Words: In the Classroom; organic chemistry; introductory experiment; comparing and contrasting; relevance in teaching and learning; analgesics; organic acid; predicting acid-base reactions from pKa values; functional groups; polarity; extraction; thin layer chromatography; column chromatography; rotary evaporation; melting point determination.

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF formatt(174 KB) HTML fomat

Supporting Materials:

A laboratory handout for students is included. (238 KB)

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