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 chemical compounds, as well as chemical reactions that take place in living organisms.
- Inorganic chemistry. Study all the elements and compounds whose structure is not based primarily on carbon.
- Physical chemistry. Study matter using the combination of physical and chemical concepts.
- Analytic chemistry. Establishes methods and techniques to analyze the quantitative and qualitative composition of substances.
The division between organic and inorganic chemistry It 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, carbides.
Although previously there was a division between organic and inorganic chemistry because the second was the one that was mainly used in industry, today there is a wide field of industrial application of organic chemistry, such as pharmacology, petrochemistry and agrochemistry.
Both disciplines of chemistry study the reactions and interactions of elements and chemical compounds, the difference is that organic chemistry concentrates mostly on the molecules formed by carbon + hydrogen + oxygen, although they can include other elements such as nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus, and their interaction with other molecules.
Inorganic chemistry studies:
- The elements and compounds that are not based on carbon as a fundamental unit.
- Coordination chemistry (compounds made up of metals bonded to pairs of free electrons from another element).
- The chemistry of metal-metal bonded compounds (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.
- Chemical phenomena that involve organic compounds and on which living things depend.
- The metabolism of chemical substances in different organisms, including humans.
Organic compounds can currently 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, petrochemicals, etc.).
Examples of applications of inorganic chemistry
- Engineering. The construction of any type of building or machinery requires a 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.
- Pollution studies. Geochemistry (branch of inorganic chemistry) studies the composition and processes that occur in soils and oceans from the 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. Antirust paints are achieved thanks to the intervention of inorganic chemistry in their manufacture, although sometimes they also involve an organic compound.
- Soap making. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is an inorganic chemical compound that is 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 flats, where the sea water is allowed to evaporate and the solid salt remains dry.
- The batteries. Commercial cells or batteries contain silver (I) oxide (AgtwoOR).
- Fizzy drinks. Soft drinks are made from the inorganic chemical compound phosphoric acid (H3PO4).
Examples of applications and processes of organic chemistry
- The antibiotics. Antibiotics can contain organic and inorganic substances. However, its design depends on the knowledge of the microorganisms that affect the body.
- The alcohol (ethanol). Alcohol is an organic substance with many uses: disinfection, coloring, beverages, cosmetics, food preservation, etc.
- Soap making. 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 breathing. Respiration is one of the processes that organic chemistry studies. 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.
- Energy storage. Lipids and carbohydrates are organic compounds that are used by living things to store energy.
- Preservatives. Many of the preservatives used for food are inorganic substances, but they act on organic compounds in food.
- 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 (CH3CHO).
- Butane gas (C4H10). It is used in homes as fuel for cooking, heating or heating water.
- Polyethylene. It is the most widely used plastic and is manufactured from ethylene (CtwoH4), an alkene hydrocarbon.
- The leather. Leather is an organic product that achieves its final consistency thanks to a process called tanning, which involves the organic chemical acetaldehyde.
- Pesticides. Pesticides can include inorganic, but also organic substances, such as chlorobenzene (C6H5Cl), an aromatic hydrocarbon that is used as a pesticide solvent.
- Rubber. Rubber can be natural (obtained from plant sap) or artificial, created from butadiene, an alkene hydrocarbon.
- Agrochemical. Products derived from aniline (C6H5NHtwo), a type of amine.
- Dietary supplements. Many dietary supplements include inorganic substances such as salts and minerals. However, they also include organic substances like amino acids.