Nucleophilic substitution and elimination solvents

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Rexx18
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As far as I'm aware, aqueous solvents favour nucleophilic substitution and ethanolic solvents favour elimination.

Why is it that making nitriles (adding KCN) and making amines (adding NH3) is done in ethanolic conditions, even though it's a substitution reaction? Is it because with water, you'd get some OH substitution instead?

If so, does that also mean you only use aqueous solvents if you want an OH substitution?
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charco
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(Original post by Rexx18)
As far as I'm aware, aqueous solvents favour nucleophilic substitution and ethanolic solvents favour elimination.

Why is it that making nitriles (adding KCN) and making amines (adding NH3) is done in ethanolic conditions, even though it's a substitution reaction? Is it because with water, you'd get some OH substitution instead?

If so, does that also mean you only use aqueous solvents if you want an OH substitution?
You are presumably talking haloalkanes here. They are not very soluble in water, whereas with ethanol they can dissolves and interact with the nucleophile.

HOT ethanolic conditions with strong alkali favours elimination.
Cold ethanolic conditions just acts as a common solvent.
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