Difference between organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry

The organic chemistry studies the structures and reactions of carbon – based compounds and inorganic chemistry studies the properties of all other elements. In general, chemistry is the study of the composition, structure and properties of substances and the changes they undergo during chemical reactions.

This initial distinction arose in the mid-18th century, when substances from plants and animals were classified as “organic,” while substances derived from stones and other minerals were classified as “inorganic.”

Organic chemistry Inorganic chemistry
Definition Branch of chemistry dedicated to the study of carbon or organic compounds. Branch of chemistry dedicated to studying the properties of elements.
Initial registration Johns Kabok Berzellius (1807) Johns Kabok Berzellius (1807)
Complexity of compounds Greater than twelve atoms, carbon being always present. From back to eight atoms.
Types of molecules Proteins, fats, carbohydrates, hydrocarbons, synthetic polymers. Salts and minerals
Applications Petrochemicals, plastics and fibers, pharmaceuticals. Metallurgy, photography, electronics.

What is organic chemistry?

Organic chemistry or carbon chemistry refers to the study of compounds of organic origin, that is, compounds from living things or those that contain carbon and can be synthesized in the laboratory.

The term “organic chemistry” was first used in 1807 by the chemist John Kabol Berzelius (1779-1848), when referring to compounds from “organisms”.

The chemical symbol for carbon is C. It has the atomic number 6, which means that it has 6 protons in its nucleus surrounded by 6 electrons in the electron cloud. Of these six electrons, four are valence electronsthat is, electrons that can be shared with other elements to form compounds.

The ability of carbon to form compounds is amazing. This can be combined with a variety of elements, such as hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, halogens, and some metals. It also binds to other carbons, forming chains of strong, stable bonds between carbons, such as fatty acids and hydrocarbons.

Examples of organic compounds are found in proteins, sugars, acetic acid in vinegar, alcohol, gasoline from petroleum, soaps and many more.

It should be noted that carbon dioxide CO2 and calcium carbonate CaCO3despite being carbon compounds, they are not organic compounds.

Applications of organic chemistry

Since there are organic compounds in massive quantities, organic chemistry is applied in a variety of aspects of society. Some examples below.


Petrochemistry is dedicated to the study of organic products derived from petroleum and production systems. Petroleum is a fossil fuel that originated from organic matter and is made up of a variety of hydrocarbons.

Pharmaceutical industry

Drugs are mostly organic compounds with some effect on the body’s metabolic pathways. The making and obtaining of new drugs, the modification of molecules to change or improve their properties, and the chemical reactions that occur in drugs are aspects that organic chemistry addresses.


Plastics are made up of high molecular weight organic molecules. Structurally they consist of monomers or short chains, which join together to form polymers. Although there is now widespread contempt for plastics, at the time, its appearance was a revolution, as it replaced wood, glass and paper in many of the human activities.

You may be interested to know more about the branches of chemistry.

What is inorganic chemistry?

Inorganic chemistry represents the branch of chemistry that studies elements that have no biological origin. In this classification we find the salts, metals and minerals that contain them.

A chemical element is a substance that cannot be subdivided into simpler substances by chemical reactions. Inorganic compounds in this sense are much simpler than organic compounds, counting between two and eight atoms in the composition.

Applications of inorganic chemistry

Inorganic chemistry is also part of everyday life. Let’s look at a few examples.


Metallurgy includes a wide range of scientific theories and technologies that allow minerals to be extracted from deposits and processed to obtain the finished metal, ready to work.

Metals are used in various areas of work: cooking, construction, electricity, tools, among others. One of the characteristics of metals is their ability to yield electrons, which makes them prone to combine with other non-metallic elements, such as oxygen and sulfur.

In order to use the metals, they must first be recovered and then transformed for the desired use. Here are alloys such as steel, which is a mixture of iron with a certain amount of carbon, with characteristics of hardness and strength that make it excellent for structures.


Because electronics is based primarily on metals and silicon, inorganic chemistry is applied to the making of microchips and integrated circuits.


With the invention of the STM tunneling microscope (for its acronym in English) scanning tunneling microscopy) opened a new field: nanotechnology. By visualizing particles at atomic levels (below 100 nanometers = one millionth of a millimeter) nanotechnology has applications in medicine, materials, and the environment.

Diagnosis and therapy

The application of radioisotopes of inorganic elements in nuclear medicine, both for diagnosis and for treatment, has been done effectively since the discovery of radioactivity.

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