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Chemistry > Aldehydes, Ketones and Carboxylic Acids > Uses of Aldehydes and Ketones
Aldehydes, Ketones and Carboxylic Acids

Uses of Aldehydes and Ketones

What are the smallest ketone and simplest aldehyde? The simplest aldehyde is formaldehyde and the smallest ketone is acetone. Aldehydes and ketones in combination with other functional groups are widely available in nature. There are many essential uses of aldehydes and ketones and they form an inevitable part of many industrial processes. Aldehydes and ketones are widespread in nature including plants, microorganisms, animals, and humans.

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Compounds of plants and microorganisms containing aldehydes and ketones include cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon bark, Citra in lemongrass, vanillin in vanilla bean, carvone in spearmint and caraway, helminthosporal- a fungal toxin, and camphor in camphor trees. Hormones of animal and human origin contain aldehydes and ketones such as muscone in musk deer, female sex hormone- progesterone, male sex hormone-testosterone, and adrenal hormone- cortisone.

A famous ketone “methadone” helps in curing addiction of opiates such as heroin, opium, and morphine. In this topic, we will study the many uses of aldehydes and ketones.

Uses of Aldehydes and Ketones

Structure of Acetone (Source Credit: Wikimedia)

Aldehydes and Ketones

These classes of organic compounds contain a carbonyl functional group (C=O) with structures CHO for aldehydes and RC(=O)R’ for ketones. Here, R and R’ denotes substituents of carbon. They also refer to as the methanoyl group or formyl group.  Aryl or alkyl group or its substituents fill in the remaining bonds of carbon atom in this group.

However, if the substituents in neither of the 2 remaining bonds are hydrogen, then the organic compound is a ketone. However, if one of the substituents is hydrogen then the organic compound is an aldehyde. The properties of aldehydes and ketones play a very important role in the uses of aldehydes and ketones.

Browse more Topics under Aldehydes Ketones Carboxylic Acids

Uses of Aldehydes and ketones

Aldehydes and ketones find application in different sectors such as pharmaceutical, food, fragrance, cosmetics because of their chemical properties. Refer below to learn more about the various applications and uses of aldehydes and ketones.

Uses of Aldehydes

  • Formaldehyde is found in the gaseous form. However, formaldehyde with 40% solution in water forms formalin. Formalin helps in the preservation of biological specimens.
  • Formaldehyde reacting with phenol forms a compound Bakelite. Bakelite finds its application in plastics, coatings, and adhesives.
  • The compound- formaldehyde is essential during many industrial processes such as embalming, glue preparation, tanning and manufacture of polymeric products.
  • It acts as germicide, insecticide, and fungicides.
  • Formaldehyde helps in the testing of drugs. It is also used in photography.
  • Production of acetic acid and pyridine derivatives is possible from the compound “acetaldehyde.”
  • Benzaldehyde (aldehyde) is an essential component for the production of perfumes, cosmetic products, and dyes. It is added to incorporate almond flavour into various food products. It also acts as a bee repellant.

Uses of Ketones

  • Ketone behaves as an excellent solvent for certain types of plastics and synthetic fibres.
  • Acetone act as a paint thinner and a nail paint remover.
  • It also is used for medicinal purposes such as chemical peeling procedure as well as acne treatments.
  • Butanone, also known as methyl ethyl ketone, is one of the common solvents. It is used in textile production, varnishes production, paint remover production, paraffin wax production, plastic production, etc.
  • Another important ketone is cyclohexanone which is an important component in nylon production.

Aldehydes and Ketones in Perfumes

Aldehydes and ketones impart some very characteristics fragrance in compounds. For instance, ketones help in the formation a compound “acetophenone” which is responsible for fragrances such as cherry, jasmine, honeysuckle, almond, strawberry, etc. However, aldehydes are a well-known source of perfumes and fragrances in comparison to ketones.

Aldehydes in Baked Goods and Herbs

Everyone loves the scent of freshly baked cookies. But do you know the delicious scents of cookies baking in an oven are due to aldehydes? Aldehydes are an essential component in particular sugars. Moreover, certain popular flavours of baking such as cinnamon, vanilla during baking are because of aldehydes.

Aldehydes also play an important part in caramelization of sugars. During the process of caramelization, amino acids convert the aldehyde group present in sugar into unsaturated aldehyde thereby helping in the formation of caramel and the characteristic brown colour of caramel. Aldehydes are also present in herbs such as coriander and give it the characteristic smell of coriander.

A Solved Question for You

Q. Name the term that represents aldehydes and ketones.

  1. Ethers
  2. Phenols
  3. Carbonyl Compounds
  4. Saturated Hydrocarbons

Solution: The answer is 3. Carbonyl compounds represent aldehydes and ketones.

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