What is the balanced equation when you oxidize propan-1-ol with potassium permanganate?

Expert Answers
gsenviro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Propan-1-ol is also known as 1-propanol and is a primary alcohol. Potassium permangante is an oxidizing agent and oxidizes the primary alcohol to carboxylic acid in a two step process. In the first step, the primary alcohol is oxidized to an aldehyde and in the next step, the aldehyde converts to the carboxylic acid. The overall reaction is written as:

`C_3H_7OH + KMnO_4 -> C_2H_5COOH + MnO_2 + KOH + H_2O`

In this equation, the primary alcohol gets oxidized, while the permanganate gets reduced. However, this equation is not balanced. One can check that by counting of number of atoms of each species on the reactant side and product side of the chemical equation. For example, number of hydrogen atoms on reactant side is 8, while on the product side, it is 9. 

The well-balanced chemical equation is as follows:

`3C_3H_7OH + 4KMnO_4 -> 3C_2H_5COOH + 4MnO_2 + 4KOH + H_2O`

Interestingly, this reaction works only for the primary alcohol. 

With a secondary alcohol, acetone is the final product. With a tertiary alcohol, no oxidation takes place.

Hope this helps.