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Williamson ether synthesis > mechanisms > home      

Williamson ether synthesis


The Williamson ether synthesis is a reaction that converts alcohols (R-OH) into ethers (R-O-R). The first step in this reaction is forming the conjugate base of the alcohol (called an alcoxide) by reacting the alcohol with sodium metal. This reaction forms hydrogen gas (H2) as a biproduct, so if you perform this reaction take caution to keep all flame sources away during sodium addition.

Williamson Ether Synthesis Overview

The alcoxide can then be added to a suitable alkyl halide (typically a primary halide) to form the ether via an SN2 mechanism.

Williamson Ether Second Step


An example of the Williamson ether synthesis to make diethyl ether.


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