Aldehyde vs Formaldehyde
Both aldehyde and formaldehyde are organic compounds, which possess a carbonyl functional group. Formaldehyde is also come under the category of aldehyde, but it differs from the general aldehydes in certain ways.
Aldehydes have a carbonyl group. This carbonyl group is bonded to another carbon from one side, and from the other end it is connected to hydrogen. Therefore, aldehydes can be characterized with the –CHO group, following is the general formula of an aldehyde.
In a carbonyl group, carbon atom has a double bond to oxygen. The carbonyl carbon atom is sp2 hybridized. So aldehydes have a trigonal planar arrangement around the carbonyl carbon atom. The carbonyl group is a polar group, thus, aldehydes have higher boiling points compared to the hydrocarbons having the same weight. But, these cannot make stronger hydrogen bonds like alcohols resulting lower boiling points than the corresponding alcohols. Because of the hydrogen bond formation ability, low molecular weight aldehydes are soluble in water. But, when the molecular weight increases, they become hydrophobic. The carbonyl carbon atom is partially positive charged, hence can act as an electrophile. Therefore, these molecules are easily subjected to nucleophilic substitution reactions. The hydrogens attached to the carbon next to the carbonyl group has acidic nature, which accounts for various reactions of aldehydes.
In the nomenclature of aldehyde, according to the IUPAC system “al” is used to denote an aldehyde. For aliphatic aldehydes, the “e” of the corresponding alkane is replaced with “al”. For example, CH3CHO is named as ethanal, and CH3CH2CHO is named as propanal. Aldehydes with ring systems, where the aldehyde group is directly attached to the ring, “carbaldehyde” term is used as a suffix to name them. But, C6H6CHO is commonly known as benzaldehyde rather than using benzenecarbaldehyde. Aldehydes can be synthesized by various methods. One method is by oxidizing primary alcohols. Moreover, aldehydes can be synthesized by reducing esters, nitriles and acyl chlorides.
The simplest aldehyde is formaldehyde. However, this is deviated from the general formula of an aldehyde by having a hydrogen atom instead of a R group. So, formaldehyde has the following structural formula.
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas at room temperature, which is also flammable. Its IUPAC name is methanal, with the suffix –al, which shows that it is an aldehyde. Formaldehyde has a strong odor, and it is highly toxic to the human body. It is naturally synthesized in the body as a by-product of metabolism pathways. For example, methanol breaks down in liver producing formaldehyde. But, this does not accumulate inside as it is quickly converted into formic acid. Formaldehyde can also be naturally produced in the atmosphere when oxygen, methane, and other hydrocarbons react together under sunlight. Formaldehyde is a widely used chemical in industries. It is used to produce disinfectants, fertilizer, automobiles, paper, cosmetics, wood preservation, etc.
What is the difference between Aldehyde and Formaldehyde?
¤ Formaldehyde doesn’t have a R group as any other aldehyde, instead of a R group it has a hydrogen atom.
¤ Formaldehyde is a gas, whereas other aldehydes are often in the gaseous or liquid phase.
¤ Formaldehyde has a pungent odor, whereas most aldehydes have a pleasant odor.