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Reduction of Aldehyde and Ketones

The source of hydrides we use is sodium borohydire (NaBH4 ) and Lithium aluminium hydride (LiAlH4)

Carbonyl group is Electrophile which can accepts electrons to read more about how carbonyl is electerophile click here.

Adlehyde and Ketones react with hydride forming alcohols.

The mechanism:

Take care the curved arrw not from negative bromide but from the bond (remember electrophile types). After formation alkoxide there is unwanted reaction may occurs:


Alkoxide can re-react with the formed Borane (BH3) replacing one hydrogen atom of it as shown in fig.2

To prevent this unwnated reaction we need to protonate the alkoxide fromed so we use water or alchohol solvents.


NaBH4 is weak reducing agent so it can only reduces the reactive carbony (ALdehydes and Ketones) not ester or amides while LiAlH4 is powerfull reducing agent which can reduces not only aldehydes and ketons but also esters, amides , carboxyilic acid and nitriles.

[LiAlH4 reacts violently with water due to releasing of H2 that is flammable] so we add drops of water in using LiAlH4

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