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Synthesis of Aspirin and Analysis of Aspirin

Before the advent of acetylsalicylic acid, people used salicylates to treat a number of illnesses. However, salicylates caused discomfort in the stomach. Aspirin was, hence, developed as a replacement to salicylates. In their study, AL-Jabri and AL-Salman (2012) state that aspirin has been perpetually improved to make it more potent and less irritating to the stomach. Aspirin is prepared by subjecting salicylates to a number of chemical reactions. Acetylsalicylic acid is the chemical name of aspirin. One can analyze aspirin through back titration, observing it under a microscope or reacting it with iron III chloride. This essay provides an insight into the synthesis and analysis of aspirin.

The most common way of synthesizing aspiring is reacting C7H6O3 (salicylic acid) and C4H6O3 (acetic anhydride. This reaction generates C9H8O4 (acetylsalicylic acid) + C2H4O2 (acetic acid). High temperatures are used in the initial stages to increase the solubility of aspirin. However, at later stages, temperatures are dropped to enable molecules to stick together or crystallize. Helmenstine (n.d.) reiterates that it is important to rinse aspirin with distilled water after synthesis. This gets rid of unreacted acetic and salicylic acid. In addition, if not stored in a dry environment, aspirin can decompose since moisture hydrolyzes acetylsalicylic acid.

The most obvious way of analyzing aspirin is back titration. In this case, an excess amount of sodium hydroxide is heated with aspirin. After the reaction, excess sodium hydroxide is titrated with hydrochloric acid. From the data obtained, one is able to find out the amount of acetylsalicylic acid in the sampled aspirin. An easier method of analyzing the quality of aspirin is to compare it with salicylic acid. This is done by adding a drop of 1% iron III chloride to small quantities of aspirin and salicylic acid in separate test tubes. After the experiment, pure aspirin shows no color. On the contrary, salicylic acid indicates a purple color. Additionally, when observed under a microscope, pure aspirin crystals are small-grained, white in color and have clear recurring units.

In conclusion, it is obvious that aspirin is one of the easiest drugs to synthesis and analyze. To produce aspirin, one only needs to react salicylic acid and acetic anhydride. On the other hand, aspirin can be analyzed using simple procedures such as back titration. However, commercial aspirin tablets are not 100 percent pure as they contain chemically-inert binders.

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