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Explain the Reaction

If you treat an aldehyde wiith HCN you produce a cyanohydrin. For example,

H2C=O + HCN equilibrium H2C-C (triple bond) N
l
O-H

However, if you treat formaldehyde (CH2O) with potassium cyanide in water, you will not produce the cyanohydrin. You may even produce C3H6O3 (i.e., dihydroxyacetone and glyceraldehyde). Explain this either in words or reactions.

Solution Preview

Cyanohydrin formation is one of the most important reactions of aldehydes and ketones.

RCHO + HCN = RCH(OH) CN
Cyanohydrin

If we go into the details of this reaction, we see ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains cyanohydrin formation as a reaction of aldehydes and ketones.

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