Organic Versus Inorganic Compounds

Organic Versus Inorganic Compounds

There are chief differences between organic and inorganic compounds. While both types of compounds make up the basis of chemistry, the two types are rather different. The main difference is in the presence of a carbon atom; organic compounds will contain a carbon atom (and often a hydrogen atom, to form hydrocarbons), while almost all inorganic compounds do not contain either of those two atoms.

While most inorganic compounds do not contain carbon, there are a few that do. Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, for example, each contain carbon atoms, but the amount is not large enough to form strong bonds with the oxygen present in the molecule. Due to the small amount of carbon and the weak bonds it forms, scientists have long classified those molecules as inorganic, but this has led some in the scientific community to declare the need for a better classification system for compounds.

Another important distinction between organic and inorganic compounds is the type of molecule and its association with living things. Organic compounds will include things like the nucleic acids, found in DNA, lipids and fatty acids found in the cells of living organisms, proteins and enzymes that are necessary for cellular processes to take place, and more. Meanwhile, inorganic compounds include the salts, metals, and other elemental compounds.

1. C12H22O11 - Sucrose, better known as the sugar we use at home, is an important organic compound that contains not only carbon and hydrogen, but contains them in abundance and in ratios greater than the oxygen present.

2. CH4 - Also known by the more common name methane, this carbon and hydrogen based organic compound is a widely recognized waste product of living things.

3. C55H72O5N4Mg - Better known among researchers as chlorophyll-a, this component found in green plants not only is high in carbon and hydrogen ratios, but is also a chief factor in the process of photosynthesis in plants.

4. (NH4)2S - Despite the presence of hydrogen atoms in this compound, the lack of a carbon atom and the resulting weak bonds that are formed between the atoms makes ammonium sulfide an inorganic compound.

5. CaCl2 - Calcium chloride is an inorganic compound with a variety of uses, but its lack of either a carbon atom, a hydrogen atom, or both means it is classified as an inorganic compound.

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