The mechanism for the esterification of vanillin involves the chemical combination of vanillin and acetic anhydride, which is catalyzed by either an acid or a base. This reaction results in the formation of two types of esters: monoester and triester.
Vanillin has the chemical formula C8H8O3 and chemical name 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde. It is a naturally-occurring substance in vanilla beans that can also be produced in a laboratory setting. The synthesis of the monoester derivative of vanillin is triggered by a reaction that occurs at the phenol group of vanillin. The triester vanillin product, meanwhile, is created when one ester forms at the phenol group and two esters connect at the aldehyde group.