Chemistry is the science that studies matter, in terms of its composition, structure, and properties. It also studies the changes that matter undergoes, which can occur due to chemical reactions related to the exchange of energy.
Chemistry includes different specialties:
- Organic Chemistry. It studies compounds that have their structure mainly based on carbon.
- Biochemistry. Study the chemical compounds, as well as the chemical reactions that take place in living organisms.
- Inorganic Chemistry. It studies all the elements and compounds whose structure is not fundamentally based on carbon.
- Phytochemistry. Study matter using the combination of physical and chemical concepts.
- Analytical Chemistry. Establishes methods and techniques to analyze the quantitative and qualitative composition of substances.
The division between organic and inorganic chemistry arose at a time when all carbon compounds were thought to come from living things. However, there are currently carbon-containing substances that are studied by inorganic chemistry: graphite, diamond, carbonates and bicarbonates, and carbides.
Although previously there was a division between organic and inorganic chemistry because the latter was the one that was mainly used in industry, today there is a wide field of industrial applications of organic chemistry, such as pharmacology, petrochemistry, and agrochemistry.
Both disciplines of chemistry study the reactions and interactions of chemical elements and compounds, the difference is that organic chemistry focuses mainly on molecules formed by carbon + hydrogen + oxygen, although they can include other elements such as nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus, and its interaction with other molecules.
Inorganic chemistry studies:
- Elements and compounds that are not based on carbon as the fundamental unit.
- Coordination chemistry (compounds formed by metals bonded to free pairs of electrons from another element).
- The chemistry of compounds with a metal-metal bond (the metals).
Organic chemistry studies:
- The behavior of molecules whose structure is based on carbon-carbon and carbon-hydrogen bonds.
- The chemical processes that take place in the cell.
- The chemical phenomena that involve organic compounds and on which living beings depend.
- The metabolism of chemical substances in different organisms, including humans.
Organic compounds today can be of natural or synthetic origin.
Although they are different specialties, both disciplines have points in common and can be combined to achieve different objectives (industry, food, petrochemical, etc.).
Examples of applications of inorganic chemistry
- The engineering . The construction of any type of building or machinery requires knowledge of the chemistry of the materials used (resistance, hardness, flexibility, etc). The branch of inorganic chemistry that deals with this topic is materials science.
- contamination studies. Geochemistry (a branch of inorganic chemistry) studies the composition and processes that occur in soils and oceans from a chemical point of view.
- Gemstone Appreciation. The value of minerals is determined by their chemical composition
- The study of oxides. The appearance of rust on metals is a reaction studied by inorganic chemistry. Anti-rust paints are achieved thanks to the intervention of inorganic chemistry in their manufacture, although sometimes they also involve some organic compounds.
- The manufacture of soaps . Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is an inorganic chemical compound used to make soaps.
- Obtaining kitchen salt . Common salt (NaCl) is an inorganic compound that we use every day. It is usually obtained in the salt pans, where the seawater is allowed to evaporate and the solid salt remains dry.
- The batteries. Commercial cells or batteries contain silver (I) oxide (Ag 2 O).
- fizzy drinks . Soft drinks are made with the inorganic chemical compound phosphoric acid (H 3 PO 4 ).
Examples of applications and processes of organic chemistry
- Antibiotics. Antibiotics can contain organic and inorganic substances. However, its design depends on the knowledge of the microorganisms that affect the body.
- Alcohol (ethanol). Alcohol is an organic substance with many uses: disinfection, coloration, beverages, cosmetics, food preservation, etc.
- The manufacture of soaps . As we saw, soaps are produced by an inorganic chemical. However, they can also include organic chemicals such as animal fats or vegetable oils and vegetable essences.
- The breath . Respiration is one of the processes studied by organic chemistry. Through respiration, oxygen is associated with different substances (organic and inorganic) to pass from the air to the respiratory system, the circulatory system and finally to the cells.
- The storage of energy . Lipids and carbohydrates are organic compounds that are used by living beings to store energy.
- The preservatives . Many of the preservatives used for food are inorganic substances, but they act on the organic compounds of the food.
- The vaccines . Vaccines are attenuated doses of organisms that cause disease. The presence of these microorganisms allows the body to develop the necessary antibodies to be immune to the disease.
- The paintings . Paints can be made from acetaldehyde (CH 3 CHO).
- Butane gas (C 4 H 10 ). It is used in homes as fuel for cooking, heating, or heating water.
- The polyethylene . It is the most widely used plastic and is made from ethylene (C 2 H 4 ), an alkene hydrocarbon.
- The leather . Leather is an organic product that achieves its final consistency through a process called tanning, which involves the organic chemical acetaldehyde.
- The pesticides . Pesticides can include inorganic substances, but also organic ones, such as chlorobenzene (C 6 H 5 Cl), an aromatic hydrocarbon used as a pesticide solvent.
- The rubber . Rubber can be natural (obtained from plant sap) or artificial, created from butadiene, an alkene hydrocarbon.
- Agrochemistry . Products derived from aniline (C 6 H 5 NH 2 ), a type of amine, are used in agrochemistry.
- Dietary Supplements . Many dietary supplements include inorganic substances such as salts and minerals. However, they also include organic substances such as amino acids.