Aldol condensation

Aldol condensation: 
Aldehydes and ketones having at least one α-hydrogen undergo a reaction in the presence of dilute alkali as catalyst to form β-hydroxy aldehydes (aldol) or β-hydroxy ketones (ketol), respectively. This is known as Aldol reaction.

Aldol condensation

Aldol condensation

The name aldol is derived from the names of the two functional groups, aldehyde and alcohol, present in the products. The aldol and ketol readily lose water to give α,β-unsaturated carbonyl compounds which are aldol condensation products and the reaction is called Aldol condensation. Though ketones give ketols (compounds containing a keto and alcohol groups), the general name aldol condensation still applies to the reactions of ketones due to their similarity with aldehydes.
When aldol condensation is carried out between two different aldehydes and / or ketones, it is called cross aldol condensation. If both of them contain α-hydrogen atoms, it gives a mixture of four products. This is illustrated below by aldol reaction of a mixture of ethanal and propanal.
Aldol condensation

 Mechanism 

Aldol condensation


Three main steps of the mechanism are

Aldol condensation


Some other important reactions
Benzoin condensation

Cannizzaro Reaction

Clemmensen Reduction

Etard Reactions 

Williamson Ether Synthesis 

Wurtz reaction

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