The simplest ester is methyl formate (H-COO-CH3, also called methyl methanoate).
Many esters have distinctive odors and flavors, leading to their use as artificial flavorings and fragrances.
Esters participate in hydrogen bonds as hydrogen-bond acceptors, but cannot act as hydrogen-bond donors, unlike their parent alcohols.
Their lack of hydrogen-bond-donating ability means that ester molecules cannot hydrogen-bond to each other, which makes esters generally more volatile than a carboxylic acid of similar molecular weight.
The name ester is derived from the German Essig-Дther, an old name for acetic acid ethyl ester (ethyl acetate).
An ester can be thought of as a product of a condensation reaction of an acid (usually an organic acid) and an alcohol (or phenol compound), although there are other ways to form esters.
Esters can be produced by an equilibrium reaction between an alcohol and a carboxylic acid.
The most common esters are the carboxylate esters, where the acid in question is a carboxylic acid.
Esters may also be formed with inorganic acids; for example, dimethyl sulfate is an ester, and sometimes called "sulfuric acid, dimethyl ester."
The ester is named according to the alkyl group (the part from the alcohol) and then the alkanoate (the part from the carboxylic acid) which make it up.
In chemistry, esters are organic compounds in which an organic group (symbolized by R' in this article) replaces the hydrogen atom of a hydroxyl group in an oxoacid.
Stable esters such as carbamates, RO(CO)NHR', and dialkyl carbonates, RO(CO)OR, can be formed from unstable carbamic acid or carbonic acid, respectively.
Esterification can be catalysed by the presence of H+ ions.