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Difference between organic and inorganic compounds - Introduction, Types of compounds, Differences between organic and inorganic compounds, Practice Problems, FAQs

You must have seen nowadays, shopkeepers say they are claiming that they are selling organic products. Is there any reason for doing this? Chemistry would truly designate all food as organic, despite the agriculture industry's divide between what they label as organic and inorganic.

The difference between organic and inorganic compounds in chemistry is not explicitly defined, but generally speaking, organic compounds are those that contain carbon atoms, whereas inorganic molecules do not. This law has a few significant exceptions, including carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Therefore, it is also possible to define organic compounds as the molecules that make up living things, whereas inorganic compounds constitute non-living objects. Plants and plant products, the proteins and fat that make up our bodies, as well as our DNA, are all examples of organic molecules. Salts, metals, and related chemicals are examples of inorganic compounds.

Inorganic chemistry is the study of inorganic compounds, whereas organic chemistry is the study of organic compounds. In this context, we will learn more about this and what are the major differences between them.

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  • Definition
  • History of organic chemistry
  • Classification of organic molecules
  • Inorganic compounds
  • Characteristics of inorganic compounds
  • Table of differences between inorganic and organic compounds
  • Practice Problems
  • Frequently asked questions-FAQs


An organic compound is any substance, whether it is solid, gaseous, or liquid, that contains carbon as one of its principal elements. On organic compounds, many hypotheses are presented that relate to their structural formulas, space-filled models, and Lewis structures.

A branch of science called inorganic chemistry is concerned with non-carbon-containing substances. The absence of a carbon-hydrogen link identifies inorganic compounds. Salts, chemicals, and metals are examples of inorganic compounds.

History of organic chemistry:

Previously, organic chemistry was thought of as a subset of biological activities that occur naturally. Friedrich Wohler, however, was the first person to realize in the early 1800s that it is possible to create organic molecules in a lab from a variety of minerals as well as diverse non-organic components.

Classification of organic molecules:

Open chain compounds and cyclic compounds are the two basic categories used to categorize organic molecules. Straight-chained compounds and branched-chain compounds are the two additional divisions of open chain compounds. Once more, there are two categories for cyclic compounds: homocyclic and heterocyclic. Alicyclic compounds and aromatic compounds are the two further divisions of homocyclic chemicals.

Example of organic compounds

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Lipids
  • Nucleotides

Inorganic compounds:

Inorganic compounds refer to the area of chemistry that focuses on substances without carbon as a component. In essence, it contradicts the notion of organic substances. The carbon and hydrogen bonds are absent from the compounds. Inorganic compounds include substances such as metals, chemicals, and salts. About 100000 inorganic compounds have been found so far.

The field of research known as "inorganic chemistry" is concerned with the study of diverse chemical and physical characteristics. The majority of inorganic substances are naturally occurring minerals or substances with a geological foundation. They are mostly made of metals.

Characteristics of inorganic compounds:

The majority of inorganic substances have the ability to conduct electricity. The inorganic compounds are poor electrical conductors when they are in the solid state, but they excel at conducting electricity when they are liquid. In this specific phase, all the electrons are free to move about. Electricity is the name given to this particular movement of electrons.

Ionic bonds, which hold atoms and molecules in close proximity, are particularly common in inorganic compounds. As a result, they are tightly packed and have high melting and boiling temperatures. The hue of inorganic substances is another characteristic.

Applications and examples of inorganic compounds:

  • One resource that is readily available all around us is water.
  • An example of an inorganic substance is a pesticide.
  • Electronics, energy conversion and storage, materials (structural, electronic, magnetic, etc.), catalysis, and these other practical technologies all depend on inorganic chemistry.
  • Almost every area of the chemical industry uses inorganic chemistry, including catalysis, materials science, paints & pigments, surfactants, coatings, pharmaceuticals, fuels, and plastics.
  • Numerous cleaning products, including soap, detergent, floor cleaner, and glass cleaner, use inorganic compounds as bubble producers, cleaners, or solvents. Even the colouring of these products contains inorganic coloring such as Cl pigment. Additionally, these substances are included in the substance together with organic compounds.
  • Reactive inorganic compounds, such as metal, and others, for which a lengthy and laborious application process is not necessary, frequently result in inorganic compounds.

Table of differences between organic and inorganic compounds:

One of the main building blocks of chemistry is composed of organic and inorganic substances.

Inorganic chemistry is the study of inorganic compounds, whereas organic chemistry is the study of organic compounds. These are supposedly members of a sizable class. The main distinction between these organic compounds and inorganic compounds is that organic molecules always contain an atom of carbon, whereas the majority of inorganic compounds do not. Almost all organic compounds have a simple C-H bond or a carbon-hydrogen bond in them.

The most frequent distinction between organic and inorganic molecules is that the former are primarily the byproducts of biological activity.

In contrast, inorganic chemicals are produced by natural processes that have nothing to do with any of the Earth's life forms or any of the outcomes of human experiments carried out in labs.

The presence or lack of carbon atoms in a compound does not define its distinction from an inorganic substance. These exhibit traits common to both types of chemicals, despite their purported differences.

Below is the table to point out a few differences between them.

Organic Compounds

Inorganic Compounds

Carbon atoms are a defining characteristic of organic substances.

The majority of inorganic substances lack carbon atoms (some exceptions do exist).

Organic substances made up of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and their derivatives.

They lack both hydrogen and oxygen, as well as their derivatives.

Organic substances are more flammable and volatile.

These substances aren't volatile and aren't flammable.

These substances can be found as solids, gases, or liquids.

These are solids that exist in nature.

These are not water-soluble.

These are both soluble and insoluble in some organic solvents as well as in water.

These substances contain carbon-hydrogen bonds.

There are no carbon-hydrogen bonds in them.

Most living organisms primarily consist of organic molecules.

These substances can be discovered in non-living things.

Organic substances are formed by sharing of electrons and thus form covalent bonds.

Ionic bonds are created between the atoms of molecules in inorganic substances.

These are often poor heat and electricity conductors in aqueous solutions.

These are recognised as effective heat and electricity conductors in aqueous solutions.

Fats, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, enzymes, proteins, and hydrocarbon fuels are examples of organic molecules.

Non-metals, salts, metals, acids, bases, and things derived from a single element are examples of inorganic compounds.

Both their melting and boiling points are comparatively low.

Both their melting and boiling points are comparatively high.

These are more complicated and biological in character.

These are mineral-based and naturally simple.

When it comes to organic substances, reaction rates are slow.

When it comes to inorganic substances, reaction rates are comparatively high.

Practice Problems:

Q1. Which of the following represents the simplest organic compound?

A. Formic acid
B. Formaldehyde
C. Methanol
D. Methane

Answer: D

Solution: Since all other compounds are created by modifying methane, it is both the most basic member of the alkane family and the most basic organic compound while others are derivative of it.

Q2. Organic molecules with the element _________ make up hydrocarbons.

A. Hydrogen
B. Carbon
C. Sulfur
D. Hydrogen and Carbon

Answer: D

Solution: Since only carbon and hydrogen are present in these organic molecules, they are known as hydrocarbons.

Q3. Which one of the following among these is an inorganic compound?

A. Formic acid
B. Pentane
C. Carboxylic acid
D. Ammonia

Answer: D

Solution: Carbon atoms are a defining characteristic of organic substances. Formic acid, pentane, and carboxylic acid contain carbon as the major element. Ammonia contains N as the major element. So among the following compounds, NH3 is an inorganic compound.

Q4. Which among the following compounds is inorganic in nature but contains Carbon.

A. Carbon dioxide
B. Methane
C. Toluene
D. Acetylene

Answer: A

Solution: There is more than simply carbon in organic compounds. They contain carbon that is hydrogen-bonded or hydrocarbons. Other compounds given in the options contain C and H so they belong to the category of organic compounds while carbon dioxide is an inorganic compound due to absence of a C-H bond.

Frequently Asked Questions-FAQs:

Q1. What an approximate number of organic and inorganic compounds exist?

Answer: Inorganic chemistry only has roughly 500,000 known chemicals, but organic chemistry has about 19 million known carbon compounds. However, inorganic compounds offer significant economic advantages.

Q2. Why are organic compounds significant?

Answer: Since all living things contain carbon, chemical compounds are necessary. For instance, the carbon cycle necessitates the exchange of carbon between plants and animals during photosynthesis and cellular respiration. To create organometallic compounds with metals, chemical components interact.

Q3. Whether vitamins are organic or inorganic?

Answer: Organic compounds known as vitamins are often categorized as either fat-soluble or water-soluble. Vitamins that dissolve in fat, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K, have a tendency to build up in the body. Therefore, vitamins are organic compounds.

Q4. Salt is majorly categorized in which category, organic or inorganic?

Answer: Salt is categorized majorly under inorganic compounds. Water, sodium chloride (salt), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), calcium carbonate (dietary calcium supply), and muriatic acid are some examples of common everyday inorganic compounds (industrial-grade hydrochloric acid).


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