Practical Chemistry

Experiment 11: Enthalpy of combustion


To measure the combustion enthalpy of methanol, ethanol, propan-1-ol and butan-1-ol and predict the combustion enthalpy of pentan-1-ol.


Alcohols, like many organic sompounds are flammable. The energy produced by burning alcohols may be collected using a copper calorimeter containing water. The temperature change caused by a known mass of alcohol burned can be used to calculate the enthalpy of combustion.


  1. Weigh a spirit lamp containing the alcohol under investigation
  2. Weigh an empty copper calorimeter. Add approximately 100ml of water and re-weigh
  3. Record the initial temperature of the water.
  4. Light the spirit burner ensuring that all of the heat passes up into the copper calorimeter.
  5. When the temperature has risen by more than 20ºC extinguish the spirit burner and record the final highest temperature of the water.
  6. Re-weigh the spirit burner and copper calorimeter.

Experimental report

  • Record all raw data and analyse in a suitable fashion.

Suitable for assessment

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Copyright: 2003 Isis Publication