Q:

Is salicylic acid polar or nonpolar?

A:

Quick Answer

Salicylic acid is polar. Its asymmetrically placed carboxylic acid group and hydroxyl group cause it to have a net dipole moment, which grants it its polarity.

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Full Answer

Salicylic acid is also known as 2-hydroxybenzoic acid and 2-carboxyphenol. This means that salicylic acid contains a benzene ring, a hydroxyl group attached to one of the carbon atoms and a carboxylic acid group attached to the neighboring carbon atom. Since oxygen is more electronegative than hydrogen, the O-H bond has a net dipole moment directed towards the oxygen atom. Since the two -OH bonds in the salicylic acid molecule are close to two of the carbon atoms and far away from the other four, and since the molecule is asymmetric, salicylic acid is polar. Salicylic acid is not necessarily soluble in polar solvents because the large benzene group provides steric hindrance and a significant surface area for van der Waals interactions.

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