Organic and inorganic compounds

An organic compound is anything that is based on carbon . Their bonds are covalent, carbon to carbon, or between carbon and hydrogen. It is mainly synthesized by living things, however it can also be artificially synthesized. Compounds of this type constitute the branch of organic chemistry.

An inorganic compound is one that does not have carbon as its main element and in which a covalent bond between carbon and hydrogen does not occur. The most common type of bond in this compound is ionic . Compounds of this type constitute the branch of inorganic chemistry.

Organic compoundInorganic compound
DefinitionAny compound whose main element is carbon and has covalent bonds of carbon and hydrogen.Any compound whose main element is not carbon, and which does not present bonds between carbon and hydrogen.
  • In addition to carbon, hydrogen is an important element in its constitution.
  • It can be synthesized by living beings.
  • Most do not dissolve in water.
  • Reactivity is slow.
  • High volatility and combustibility.
  • Low boiling and melting points.
  • Bad conductor of electricity.
  • Most of the known compounds are organic.
  • It is not synthesized by living things.
  • It is soluble in water or aqueous media.
  • Its reactivity is fast.
  • Low volatility and combustion.
  • High boiling and melting points.
  • Good conductor of electricity.
  • There are fewer inorganic than organic compounds.
Link typeCovalentMostly ionic, and to a lesser extent covalent.
ExamplesSugars, nucleic acids, alcohol, wood, proteins, lipids, hemoglobin, methane.Ammonia, water, baking soda, and carbon dioxide.

What is an organic compound?

An organic compound is a compound whose main element is carbon , and has covalent bonds of carbon and hydrogen, or between carbon and carbon. Other components that can be part of this type of compound are oxygen and nitrogen.

Organic compounds are the elements studied by organic chemistry, the rest of the compound elements studied by inorganic chemistry. Carbon is part of more than 90% of chemical substances.

However, hydrogen is also an important element in these types of compounds. This is linked to carbon and together they join other atoms such as nitrogen, phosphorus, boron, sulfur, halogens and oxygen, to form many other compounds.

Another of its characteristics is that it is isomeric, which means that the same molecular formula can refer to more than one compound. They have different structures or properties, so their elements are distributed in different ways.

Characteristics of organic compounds

  • They are made up of carbon atoms, which produce carbon-carbon or carbon-hydrogen bonds.
  • Hydrogen is also an important element in its composition, in addition to oxygen and nitrogen.
  • Its bond is covalent, which means that the atoms that compose it share the electrons of the original elements.
  • They can be concatenated, thanks to their carbon atoms.
  • They can be synthesized by living things (biomolecules) or artificially.
  • Their bonds also attract other elements such as oxygen and nitrogen.
  • The vast majority do not dissolve in water.
  • They are highly volatile (combustible) and not very resistant to high temperatures.
  • Its boiling and melting points are low.
  • They are poor conductors of electricity.
  • Its reactivity is slow.
  • They present isomerism.
  • Organic compounds (presence of carbon) represent the majority of known compounds.
  • Organic acids and bases are mild and with less dissolution in water.

Organic compounds and living things

These compounds are part of the composition of all living beings and represent the largest amount of chemical elements that exist. They define the functions of organisms, so they constitute the “chemistry of life.” They are part of the processes and chemical reactions of organisms that allow cells to develop the functions that a being needs to live.

Until the beginning of the 19th century it was considered that organic compounds were only found in living beings or that they were produced exclusively by them. However, in 1823, the German chemist Friedrich Wöhler (1800-1882) carried out an experiment in which he succeeded in synthesizing urea, an organic compound, starting from an inorganic compound.

With this, the notion of the “vital force” was refuted, whose idea was that only living beings had the capacity to produce organic matter.

Organic biomolecules

Organic compounds that are synthesized by living things are known as organic biomolecules. These compounds allow the existence of life, and are grouped into nucleic acids, carbohydrates (carbohydrates), lipids, proteins and vitamins.

However, there are also compounds that are not naturally synthesized and are artificially created by humans, as is the case with plastic.

Covalent bond of an organic compound

A covalent bond or atomic bond is a bond made up of a pair or more of electrons that two non-metallic atoms share. The nuclei of these electrons attract each other, causing them to bond. The total energy of these atoms is less than the energy of other atoms that are not bonded. These bonds occur between atoms of non-metallic elements that have similar electronegative values ​​and their covalence is higher if their electronegativity is low. A covalent bond can be between carbon and carbon, or between carbon and hydrogen.

Thanks to the fact that organic compounds have covalent bonds, specifically those formed by carbon, these can also be concatenated. That is, when there is a covalent bond between carbon atoms, when they combine, very strong chains are formed. As a result of concatenation, these strong and short chains produce highly resistant compounds, as in the case of a diamond.

Examples of organic compounds

  • Citric acid (C 6 H 8 O 7 )
  • Sugars (carbohydrates)
  • Nucleic acids
  • Acetylene (C 2 H 2 )
  • Petroleum and derivatives such as gasoline or vinyl
  • Wood and charcoal
  • Protein
  • Lipids
  • Methane (CH 4 )
  • Vitamin C (C 6 H 8 O 6 )
  • Hemoglobin

It may interest you to know the difference between organic and inorganic chemistry .

What is an inorganic compound?

An inorganic compound is any compound formed by two or more chemical elements, which lack carbon or, if present, lack bonds between carbon and hydrogen.

Carbon is one of the key elements in the composition of organic elements, but it is not present in most inorganic compounds. However, there are compounds such as carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) that are inorganic and do have carbon among their components.

In the case of hydrogen, this is an element that is found in many of the inorganic compounds (as in the case of water). However, there are no carbon-hydrogen bonds in the composition of these compounds.

They are very stable, withstanding high temperatures and being little volatile and combustible. Reactions occur when they come into contact with other elements.

Characteristics of inorganic compounds

  • They are composed of all the elements with the exception of the combinations of carbon and hydrogen.
  • The prevailing bond is ionic.
  • They are soluble in water.
  • They are good conductors of electricity.
  • Low volatility and combustion.
  • Boiling point is high.
  • Its reactivity is fast.
  • They have neither concatenation nor isomerism.
  • They exist in a much smaller proportion than organic compounds.
  • They are less complex than organic compounds.
  • Inorganic compounds and living things

Inorganic compounds and living things

Inorganic compounds are also part of living things, even if they do not produce or synthesize them. Their synthesis originates from geological systems or is artificially produced.

However, their presence is as important as that of organic compounds for the functioning of a living organism. For example, an inorganic compound such as water is vital for life and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) is also important for the life cycle of plants.

Ionic bonds of inorganic compounds

Inorganic compounds contain mostly ionic bonds. In these bonds, one of the elements is an electron donor and the other is an electron receptor, where each element is charged with ions in an opposite way.

Unlike covalent bonds, whose elements share electrons and have a low and uniform electronegative charge, in ionic bonds there is a wide difference between the electronegative charge of each. In addition, there is a transfer of electrons between the atoms that compose them.

They are made up of a metal and a non-metal. The metal that transfers an electron is known as a cation, while the element that gains said electron is known as an anion. In addition, this type of bond allows these compounds to resist high temperatures and have high boiling points.

Types of inorganic compounds

Organic compounds are grouped according to these acids, bases, oxides and salts, in addition to other compounds.

  • Acids : these are compounds that, when dissolved, release hydrogen ions, have a bitter taste, are conductors of electricity, soluble in water, and, together with bases, produce salt and water, etc.
  • Bases : they are compounds capable of dissociating hydroxide ions, they do not react with metals, and they are slippery to the touch, etc.
  • Oxides : are compounds in which at least one element is oxygen. These are mainly classified as acidic (when they are formed from non-metals and are rich in oxygen), basic (formed by metals), neutral (formed from non-metals and poor in oxygen), among others.
  • Salts : they are ionic compounds, formed by cations and anions, they are solid, with high resistance to heat and conduct electricity in water. They are classified into basic salts (reactions between weak acids and strong bases), acidic (reactions of strong acids and weak bases) and neutral (reactions between strong acids and strong bases).

Examples of inorganic compounds

  • Ammonia (NH 3 )
  • Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO 3 )
  • Water (H 2 O)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO 2 )
  • Calcium Oxide O Cal (CaO)
  • Nitrous oxide (N 2 O)

You may be interested in more examples of organic and inorganic compounds .

Also know the Difference between acids and bases .

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