Ketones & Aldehydes: Structure, Properties & Uses

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  • 0:38 Structure of Ketones…
  • 1:44 Uses & Properties of…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Ketones and aldehydes can be ingredients in some familiar products. This lesson will explore some of the uses of these organic molecules. It will also examine the properties and structure of both ketones and aldehydes.

Introduction to Ketones & Aldehydes

What do a substance used for embalming dead people, fragrant perfumes and nail polish remover have in common? You'd probably think not a whole lot, but all of these are organic compounds, or substances that contain carbon, and all of them contain a carbonyl group, or a carbon atom double bonded to an oxygen atom.


Note the diagram: The letters A and B represent other groups that attach. This lesson will focus on two specific groups of organic compounds containing carbonyl groups: ketones and aldehydes.

Structure of Ketones & Aldehydes

Now that you have a general idea of what ketones and aldehydes have in common, let's take a closer look at the structure of each, starting with aldehydes. In aldehydes,


As you can see on this figure that depicts the structure of an aldehyde, the R represents another group that is attached to the carbon. For example, let's take a look at an ingredient in embalming fluid, or formaldehyde, in this next figure.


You can see that the carbon in the carbonyl group is bonded to two hydrogen atoms. Based on our aldehyde definition, we know formaldehyde is an aldehyde. Wow, try saying that five times fast!

In ketones, the carbon that is double bonded to the oxygen is attached to two other groups. Each group must contain carbon atoms. For example, in acetone, an ingredient in nail polish remover, the carbon that is double bonded to the oxygen is also bonded to two other carbon atoms.

Uses & Properties of Ketones & Aldehydes

So far you know that formaldehyde is an aldehyde that can be used in embalming fluid and that acetone is a ketone used in nail polish remover. Formaldehyde also has other uses, from killing pests on plants to tanning animal hides. Acetone, too, has other uses, like as an additive to paints and varnishes.

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