The production of renewable chemicals is gaining attention over the past few years. The natural resources from which they can be derived in a sustainable way are most abundant in sugars, cellulose and hemicellulose. These highly functionalized molecules need to be de-functionalized in order to be feedstocks for the chemical industry. A fundamentally different approach to chemistry thus becomes necessary, since the traditionally employed oil-based chemicals normally lack functionality. This new chemical toolbox needs to be designed to guarantee the demands of future generations at a reasonable price. The surplus of functionality in sugars and glycerol consists of alcohol groups. To yield suitable renewable chemicals these natural products need to be defunctionalized by means of dehydroxylation. Here we review the possible approaches and evaluate them from a fundamental chemical aspect.