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Aspirin Synthesis Experiment / 아스피린 합성 실험

Yulha High School

An experiment to synthesize aspirin - also known as acetylsalicylic acid - was conducted at Yulha High School, South Korea. This experiment was conducted for the club's students who are in pursuit of the pharmaceutical field. While conducting the experiment, the acetic acid and hydrochloric acid may cause headaches or create gas, so the process was handled with caution. Out of the five groups of students that attempted to synthesize aspirin, two groups succeeded. Nonetheless, the experiment helped the understanding of the process of drug synthesis.

이 실험은 동아리 부원 내 약사를 꿈으로 가지고 있는 학생들을 위한 실험이었다. 실험을 하면서 아세트산과 염산으로 인해 머리가 아프거나 위험한 연기가 날 수 있는 실험이었기 때문에 꼭 환기를 계속 시켜주며 진행해야 한다. 결과적으로 아스피린 합성실험에 성공한 모둠은 5모둠 중 2모둠 밖에 없었지만 결국 만들었다는 사실에 의의를 가진다.

Below is the product of the reaction.

아스피린 실험 결과는 다음과 같다.

Process of aspirin synthesis

아스피린 합성실험을 진행하고 있는 동아리 부원들


The precautions for the experiment include the following:

- the product is cannot be taken, as it contains many impurities

- proceed with ventilation

- hot steam is produced when heating the acetic acid

- caution is needed when using heating devices


The hydrochloric acid acts as a catalyst for the experiment, as the esterification reaction occurs at a slow rate without the catalyst. Esterification is the process of forming an ester (RCOOR) by combining an organic acid (RCOOH) and an alcohol (ROH).

Figure 1. Esterification reaction (Vedantu, 2023)


Acetic anhydride is an anhydride formed by removing one molecule of water from two molecules of acetic acid. When acetic acid and salicylic acid react, an esterification reaction occurs and water is produced, but water and aspirin undergo a decomposition reaction and return to salicylic acid, which reduces the yield of aspirin. Thus acetic anhydride is used because the reverse reaction may occur due to water coming out during the catalysis reaction. The reaction required in the experiment is an esterification reaction in which the hydroxyl group of salicylic acid reacts with the carbonyl carbon of the carboxyl group of acetic acid. However, when salicylic acid is used in the experiment, it reacts with the carbonyl carbon instead of acetic acid, causing an esterification reaction of two molecules of salicylic acid. Since this reaction must be minimized, acetic anhydride is used.


Aspirin is the oldest drug, created in 1897 in Germany. Originally, it was made by activating salicylic acid produced from tree bark. Aspirin is one of the first synthetic drugs used as an analgesic, reducing pain and as an antipyretic, ameliorating fever symptoms.


Side effects of aspirin include the following: It irritates the stomach and can cause nausea, heartburn, and indigestion. Long-term use may cause stomach ulcers, which can cause stomach pain, bleeding, and other complications. Aspirin is a blood thinner that can increase the risk of bleeding, which is a problem for people who take aspirin for long periods of time. When taken in large doses for a long period of time, it can put a strain on the kidneys, which can cause kidney damage and other complications.


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