In organic chemistry, a hydration reaction is a chemical reaction in which a hydroxyl group (OH-) and a hydrogen cation (an acidic proton) are added to the two carbon atoms bonded together in the carbon-carbon double bond which makes up an alkene functional group. The reaction usually runs in a strong acidic, aqueous solution. Hydration differs from hydrolysis in that hydrolysis cleaves the non-water component in two. Hydration leaves the non-water component intact.
The general chemical formula of the reaction is the following:
- RRC=CH2 in H2O/acid → RRC-CH2-OH
In the first step, the acidic proton bonds to the less substituted carbon of the double bond following Markovnikov's rule. In the second step an H2O molecule bonds to the other, more highly substituted carbon. The oxygen atom at this point has three bonds and carries a positive charge. Another water molecule comes along and takes up the extra proton.
When carried out in the laboratory, this reaction tends to yield many undesirable side products and in its simple form described here is not considered very useful for the production of alcohol.
This is an example reaction mechanism of the hydration of 1-methylcyclohexene to 1-methylcyclohexanol, using sulfuric acid as a catalyst.