Illustrated Glossary of Organic Chemistry

Organic synthesis: The process of converting one organic molecule into another. Depending upon the molecule being made, the process can involve one operation or many operations.

One method for the synthesis of aspirin on an industrial scale involves two operations. Phenol is reacted with NaOH (a base) and carbon dioxide in the Kolbe-Schmitt reaction to produce salicylic acid. The hydroxyl group of salicylic acid is then acylated with acetic anhydride and a catalytic amount of sulfuric acid to give acetylsalicyclic acid (otherwise known as aspirin).