In chemistry, a synthesis reaction is a reaction in which multiple reactants combine to make one main product. However, when aspirin is produced, this is also considered a synthesis reaction even though more than one product is produced. I have attached a picture showing the reaction that takes place below. Can anyone explain why this is considered a synthesis even though more than one product is produced? enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ The word "synthesis" came to be used in a different, broader sense: obtaining some compound from some other by means of chemical reactions, no matter what kind. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin May 31 '16 at 4:02

As was pointed out in the comments, it depends on your definition. The common usage of the word is taken to mean the series of steps (could be one, could be many) taken to make a certain compound. There is no specification in the definition that states that it MUST only have one major product (although this is usually the objective of synthetic chemists because we always want the targeted product with high selectivity).

It does not exclude the production of other "unwanted" chemical compounds which we call byproducts.

You could also look at it from the other angle, and ask what your definition of main is. In this case, it's the compound you want: aspirin. So there is only one main product, the others are byproducts.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm the one who asked the original question (I hope you are able to read this). Thank you so much for your help. That makes a lot of sense, and I really appreciate your advice. I hope you have a nice day. Thank you to the person in the comments as well (Ivan Neretin). $\endgroup$ – Sam Peterson May 31 '16 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ @SamPeterson glad I was able to help! :) $\endgroup$ – IT Tsoi May 31 '16 at 13:15

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