Difference Between Alloy and Compound

Alloy vs Compound

Both the terms refer to ways of organizing several elements together into various structures. Alloys and compounds defer in the way their constituent elements are mixed and held together, but both alloys and compounds are defined from a chemical standpoint.

What is an Alloy?

An alloy can be made by mixing one metal with another, several metals together or mixing non-metallic elements with a metal(s). Essentially it is defined as a solid solution. The main component metal in the alloy is known as the base metal and is referred to as the solvent within the solution and the other metals/elements used are referred to as solutes. This mixing is generally done at very high temperatures where the elements and metals are melted, mixed, and left to cool. When these metal-metal or metal-non-metal mixtures are formed, there is no occurrence of chemical bond formation between the various elements used. Therefore, the mixed elements remain intact together but display very different properties from the individual elements used, and alloys usually possess enhanced properties that are very useful in multiple applications. These properties could not have been achieved if the elements were used in isolation.

In general, alloys are tougher, stronger and heat durable than their component counterparts. Other properties such as less corrosiveness, shiny surface etc. can also be achieved depending on the type and amount of metals/elements used in the mixture. Therefore, alloys are usually produced to achieve specific requirements. When only two types of metals/elements are used to prepare an alloy, it is called a binary alloy, and when three different types are used we call it a tertiary alloy and so on.

Alloys frequently contain impurities and these impurities either can be present in the components or can be infused during the process of mixing.  The components present in the mixture are expressed in percentages according to their weights in the mixture. Some commonly used alloys are steel, brass, bronze, nichrome etc.

What is a Compound?

A compound is an association of several elements bound together by chemical bonds. Ideally there should be two or more elements to form a compound. It is not possible to obtain a compound by just mixing few elements together, but they are only achievable through specific chemical reactions. Therefore, it is also possible to obtain individual elements by breaking down a compound through other chemical reactions, as well. Compounds depending on their nature can be identified under different categories; molecules (elements bound together by covalent bonds), salts (elements bound together by ionic bonds), complexes (elements bound together by coordination bonds) etc. In some cases, many elements of the same type join together to form bonds, and they are known as polyatomic molecules. If two elements of the same type forms a compound, it is called a diatomic molecule.

Elements in a compound are held together in definite ratios and each compound would have its own unique characteristic properties. Each compound has its own unique name and as well as a unique chemical formula for identification. Some common examples for compounds include; NaCl, CaCO3, H2O etc. 

What is the difference between an Alloy and a Compound?

• An alloy is a mixture of metals/elements whereas a compound is a way that several elements are bonded together through chemical reactions.

• An alloy at least would contain a metal in it, but most of the compounds are from a non-metallic origin.

• There’s a great variety of compounds than alloys.

• Alloys do not have chemical bonds between the elements whereas compounds do have.

• Alloys have completely different enhanced properties than individual elements, but compounds carry traces of elemental characteristics.

• Alloys do not have strict proportions in elemental composition, but compounds do have.