Isovaleraldehyde

February 11, 2019
This week I might be a way to your heart.
What molecule am I?

Isovaleraldehyde, formally 3-methylbutanal, is a pungent liquid that occurs in natural oils such as orange, lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus. It is also found in processed foods such as beer, cheese, and chocolate. Its odor has been described variously from “apple-like” to “suffocating”.

In addition to its natural sources, isovaleraldehyde can be synthesized in several ways, including

  • the oxidation of isoamyl alcohol with Na2Cr2O7 and H2SO4,
  • the hydroformylation of isobutene,
  • the isomerization of 3-methyl-3-butene-1-ol catalyzed by CuO–ZnO, and
  • the reaction between isobutene and formaldehyde.

Isovaleraldehyde’s strong aroma makes it useful (in small amounts) as a perfume component. So . . . perfume, chocolate, and beer . . . what else could you possibly need for Valentine’s Day?

Isovaleraldehyde fast facts

CAS Reg. No. 590-86-3
Empirical formula C5H10O
Molar mass 86.13 g/mol
Appearance Colorless liquid
Boiling point 92–93 ºC
Water solubility 1.4–20 g/La

aConflicting data in literature

Isovaleraldehyde hazard information

GHS classification*: flammable liquids, category 2
H225—Highly flammable liquid and vapor Chemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: skin sensitization, category 1
H317—May cause an allergic skin reaction Chemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: serious eye damage/eye irritation, category 2A
H319—Causes serious eye irritation Chemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: specific target organ toxicity, single exposure, respiratory tract irritation, category 3
H335—May cause respiratory irritation Chemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: hazardous to the aquatic environment, long-term hazard, category 2
H411—Toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects Chemical Safety Warning

*Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. Explanation of pictograms.

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