Organic and Inorganic chemistry lay the foundations of many other disciplines of chemistry. The former is the chemistry that mainly deals with compounds containing carbon as one of the main constituents. The latter on the other hand is the part of chemistry that mainly focuses upon compounds that lack carbon. However, there are many exceptions in the classification. For example, a compound formed in plants named oxalic acid( H2C2O4) is generally considered an organic acid, but it does not contain any C-H bond.
(Structure of oxalic acid)
The two fields are not entirely distinct because there is a lot of overlap in the two branches. This overlap can be best seen in organometallic compounds. These compounds include an organic structure but comprise of metals. But, it still makes it important for us to know what the difference between them is and which among the two has more important applications in chemistry. If you are here to quench your curiosity on the above mentioned topics, then you have landed on the right page.
What exactly are these terms?
Organic chemistry is the chemistry that deals mainly with the structure, properties and reactions of hydrocarbons ie. compounds which contain carbon-hydrogen or carbon-carbon covalent bonds. The range of chemicals studied under this discipline are not limited to hydrocarbons. Compounds based on carbon that also contain other elements, especially elements like oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus and halogens are all studied under this discipline. Also, diamond, graphite, fullerenes, and carbon nanotubes- which are allotropes of pure carbon are also excluded from the category of organic compounds because they are simple substances made up of just a single element. So, they are not considered to be chemical compounds.
On the contrary, inorganic chemistry deals with synthesis and behaviour of inorganic and organometallic compounds. Important classes of compounds under this discipline are the oxides, the sulphates, and the halides. Some groups of carbon-containing compounds, such as carbonates, carbides and cyanide salts, as well as a few other exceptions, such as carbon dioxide, are not categorised as organic compounds and are instead considered inorganic due to historical reasons.
Difference between Organic and Inorganic chemistry
The key difference between the two is that organic chemistry deals with covalent compounds whereas inorganic chemistry is responsible for the study of mainly ionic compounds. The other differences are given in the table below.
Some applications of organic chemistry
- Design of Vaccines: Vaccines are designed for a disease through the study of organic chemistry to develop the necessary antibodies to be immune to the disease.
- Design of Antibiotics: The manufacture of antibiotics and the design depends on the knowledge of microorganisms that affect the body which makes it an application of organic chemistry.
- Alcohol: Ethanol (from alcohol functional group) is an organic substance with many uses: disinfection, coloration, beverages, cosmetics, food preservation, etc.
- In the living body: The human body stores energy as lipids and carbohydrates. These are compounds that organic chemistry studies.
- The manufacture of soaps: Soaps are produced by an inorganic chemical. Organic chemicals such as animal fats or vegetable oils and vegetable essences can also be used in the process.
- Preservatives in food: Many of the preservatives used for food are inorganic substances, but they act on the organic compounds of the food.
- Acetaldehyde: It is an aldehyde used to make paints. It is also used in the process of tanning to give consistency to leather.
- Polyethylene . It is the most widely used plastic and is made from ethylene, an alkene hydrocarbon.
- Pesticides: Chlorobenzene, an aromatic hydrocarbon, is used as a pesticide solvent.
- Manufacture of Rubber: To artificially make rubber, butadiene, an alkene hydrocarbon is used.
- Agrochemistry: The branch of chemistry uses products derived from aniline, a type of amine.
Some applications of inorganic chemistry
- Material Science Chemistry: Knowledge of the chemistry of materials used (such as resistance, flexibility, etc.) is very crucial in the applications of engineering.
- Geochemistry: To get an understanding of the earth and other planets, chemical principles are required to be applied by studying the composition and processes that occur in soils and oceans from a chemical point of view.
- Gemstone Appreciation: Chemical composition is studied to assign value to different minerals.
- The phenomenon of rusting: Inorganic chemistry studies rusting on metals. Anti- rust paints are manufactured through inorganic compounds. However, they may also employ organic compounds in the manufacturing stage.
- Everyday products: Many inorganic compounds find their applications in products. For eg. phosphoric acid is used to make fizzy drinks. Silver Oxide is used to make commercial cells or batteries. Common salt (NaCl) is an inorganic compound that we use every day in the kitchen. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is an inorganic chemical compound used in the manufacture of soaps.
Around 2 crore known organic compounds exist in organic chemistry. It is a very vast and complex subject. And 6 lakhs inorganic compounds exist in inorganic chemistry, far less than organic compounds. This is because of the unique structure and bonding abilities of carbon. But, it doesn’t make any discipline more or less important. Despite the less compounds it studies, inorganic chemistry is the only discipline that specifically studies the difference between different types of atoms. Both the disciplines, although sometimes overlapping with each other, are very important.