Benzoin is an organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

 with the formula PhCH(OH)C(O)Ph. It is a hydroxy ketone
Hydroxy ketone
A hydroxy ketone in organic chemistry is a functional group consisting of a ketone flanked by a hydroxyl group. In the two main classes the hydroxyl group can be placed in the alpha position or in the beta position .* An alpha-hydroxy ketone is called an acyloin* Prominent beta-hydroxy ketones...

 attached to two phenyl groups. It appears as off-white crystals, with a light camphor
Camphor is a waxy, white or transparent solid with a strong, aromatic odor. It is a terpenoid with the chemical formula C10H16O. It is found in wood of the camphor laurel , a large evergreen tree found in Asia and also of Dryobalanops aromatica, a giant of the Bornean forests...

-like odor. Benzoin is synthesized from benzaldehyde
Benzaldehyde is an organic compound consisting of a benzene ring with a formyl substituent. It is the simplest aromatic aldehyde and one of the most industrially useful. This colorless liquid has a characteristic pleasant almond-like odor...

 in the benzoin condensation
Benzoin condensation
The benzoin condensation is a reaction between two aromatic aldehydes, particularly benzaldehyde. The reaction is catalyzed by a nucleophile such as the cyanide anion or an N-heterocyclic carbene. The reaction product is an aromatic acyloin with benzoin as the parent compound...

. It is chiral and it exists as a pair of enantiomers: (R)-benzoin and (S)-benzoin.

Benzoin is not a constituent of benzoin resin
Benzoin resin
Benzoin resin or styrax resin is a balsamic resin obtained from the bark of several species of trees in the genus Styrax. It is used in perfumes, some kinds of incense, as a flavoring, and medicine . Its principal component is benzoic acid...

 obtained from the benzoin tree
Styrax is a genus of about 130 species of large shrubs or small trees in the family Styracaceae, mostly native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with the majority in eastern and southeastern Asia, but also crossing the equator in South America...

 (Styrax) or tincture of benzoin
Tincture of benzoin
Tincture of benzoin is a pungent solution of benzoin resin in alcohol. A similar preparation called Friar's Balsam or Compound Benzoin Tincture contains, in addition, Cape aloes and storax .-Medical uses:Tincture of benzoin has two main medical uses: as a treatment for damaged skin in the...