Organic vs Inorganic Substances
An organic and inorganic substance is a broad dichotomy of substances that divides them into those made up of carbon atoms and those that do not contain carbon atoms. However, the situation was not very clear in earlier times when people thought of organic substances as compounds found in living things only. They thought of such compounds as having a breath of life and believed these substances could not be synthesized or made in laboratories. They were finally proved wrong when German scientist Wohler successfully synthesized organic compounds from compounds found in non living things. This was a turning point as finally it was proved untrue that organic compounds were found in living beings only.
Another differentiation that was put forward (and this holds true till today) is that all compounds that contains carbon atoms are organic compounds while those that do not have carbon are inorganic compounds. Initially there was skepticism as people said that study of organic compounds would be very small as inorganic compounds would be very high in numbers. However, as time passed, there were amazing discoveries and it was found that carbon atom had capabilities to join and combine in many more ways than earlier thought. Carbon has the ability to combine with other atoms in rings, chains and many other geometric forms making carbon compounds much higher in number than inorganic compounds. In fact, there are close to 10 million organic substances discovered till today and scientists feel that there are many more that will be found in time to come.
However, the differences between organic and inorganic substances do not stop with the presence or absence of carbon atoms and there are characteristics of both types of compounds that are different.
Difference Between Organic and Inorganic Substances
• Melting and boiling points of organic compounds are in general lower than corresponding melting and boiling points of inorganic compounds though there are many organic compounds with very high melting and boiling points.
• Inorganic substances are more soluble in water than organic compounds
• Organic substances are generally more inflammable than inorganic substances as would be clear with some organic substances such as petroleum, kerosene natural gas etc.
• Inorganic substances are generally better conductors of heat and electricity than organic compounds.
• The rate of reaction of inorganic substances is faster than organic compounds
• Organic substances produce much more complex substances when they react chemically with other substances
• Inorganic substances readily make salts which organic substances find difficult because of the presence of carbon atoms
• All organic compounds contain carbon atoms whereas inorganic substances contain metals and other different substances
• All organic compounds are characterized by the presence of C=H linkages which are absent in inorganic substances
• Organic substances are biological in nature where as inorganic substances are minerals
• Many organic substances are sources of energy (petroleum, diesel, methane, ethane, etc). On the other hand, inorganic substances act as catalysts.
• Organic substances are characterized by the presence of excessively long carbon chains which are not there in inorganic substances.