Inorganic Compounds

What are inorganic chemicals?

Inorganic chemicals are most abundant in nature, and are the basis for many vital industries. Created in naturally, synthetically, and industrially, inorganic chemicals are responsible for the fields of semiconductors, pigmentation, coating and surfactants, fuel, medicine, and chemical manufacturing. They form useful acids, bases and inert materials utilized for their specific attributes such as conductivity, catalysis, and reactive chemistry.

The term "inorganic" refers broadly to compounds that do not contain both carbon and hydrogen. While materials like minerals and metals fit tidily into this definition, there are also plenty of inorganic compounds in which a metalloid or metal is bonded with carbon. These are known as organometallic compounds.

In this article, we will cover how inorganic compounds compare to organic compounds, some examples of important inorganic substances, and different applications and industries where they are produced and used.

In this article you will learn:

  • The differences between organic and inorganic substances
  • Types of inorganic compounds
  • Examples of inorganic compounds and substances
  • Where is inorganic chemistry used

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The differences between organic and inorganic substances

The easiest way to describe the difference between inorganic chemicals and organic chemicals is that organic chemistry covers compounds that are based on carbon and hydrogen combinations, and may or may not contain oxygen. Inorganic chemistry deals with all the other parts of the periodic table. Though an inorganic compound may contain either hydrogen or carbon, containing both generally makes it organic. Chemistry, much like music and astronomy, is riddled with peculiar historical nomenclature. Such is the case with the division between organic and inorganic substances, for which there is no comprehensive rule.

The reason this distinction is so important to make is that organic chemistry deals with such a broad range of compounds, despite the fact that carbon is but a single atom. Carbon's outer shell has four electrons, but it acts such a way that it "wants" eight in its 'valence'. This gives it the ability to form multiple iterations of double or triple bonds, or as many as four single bonds. In the atomic world, this makes it extremely versatile. As a result, there are over nine million known organic compounds.

The terms "organic" and "inorganic" can conjure up images of living versus nonliving things. Interestingly, organic and inorganic chemistry once were divided by this distinction — however, this is no longer true. While organic compounds are responsible for life, many are not involved with living organisms. Additionally, many inorganic compounds are crucial to life. For example, organisms cannot live without water, salt, acids, bases, vitamins, minerals, and other inorganic compounds at work within our bodies. Carbon dioxide is an inorganic compound released by the body, despite its obvious carbonic composition.

Inorganic chemistry differs from organic chemistry in one especially fundamental way: It deals with far fewer compounds. Inorganic chemistry covers roughly half a million known compounds. However, these substances are so vital to our existence that the field is of equal importance. Where would we be without the production of ceramics, concrete, cement, metal, and lime? Where would the current state of technology be without the production of silicon? Where would our chemical industry be without sulfuric acid, chlorine, ammonia, and caustic soda?

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Types of inorganic compounds

In general, there are four groups of inorganic compound types. They are divided into bases, acids, salts, and water.

Note that these are the broadest categories of inorganic compounds. There are also loads of substances, including monatomic ones, that fall under the category of inorganic.

Examples of inorganic compounds and substances

Here are some common inorganic compounds and what they are used for:

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Where is inorganic chemistry used?

Given that inorganic compounds have so many widespread uses — chemical catalysts, paint, pesticides, jewelry, medicine, fuel, and much more — they are used in a huge number of industries. Whether it is in manufacturing microchips or mining for raw materials, inorganic chemistry is crucial for many processes.

Inorganic chemists can find work for the government, in industry, among academic institutions, and in the private sector. Often, the job is similar to that of a physicist or material scientist — the primary objective is to study the molecular realm of physical attributes and behavior of substances. Some of the industries that employ inorganic chemists include:

Contact Brenntag for all your inorganic chemistry needs

If you are in need of inorganic materials, Brenntag is your partner in finding the best source. At Brenntag, we are committed to connecting our customers with leading manufacturers around the world to develop long-lasting, winning partnerships. As a top distributor in inorganic chemicals, we are in close connection with the industry and are always able to secure the best deals.

Brenntag operates out of 190 distribution locations, making us a worldwide force in the inorganic chemistry industry. We offer localized service and on-time deliveries, dedicated technical support, custom blending, formulation assistance, innovative supply chain solutions, and repackaging solutions. View our Canada locations.

With our extensive industry knowledge and expertise, we are able to provide the best products and services. You will work with the most trustworthy supplier in the business. We are a relationship-oriented company — that means we prioritize service as well as safety for our partners and the environment. We specialize in product storage and packaging, new product development, supplier consolidation, cost reduction efforts, waste handling, and VOC reduction.

At Brenntag, we are second-to-none in the industry. Contact us with questions or to request information on our exceptional services.

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