Ethers are generally unreactive. However, epoxides (3-membered cyclic ethers) are highly strained, so they are able to react with nucleophiles in ways a typical ether could not. Let’s take a look.
Acid-catalyzed ring openings favor addition to the MOST substituted carbon (thermodynamic control).
Concept: Base-Catalyzed Epoxide Ring-Opening5m
Base-catalyzed ring openings favor addition to the LEAST substituted carbon (kinetic control).