Chemical symbols are codes for chemical elements. Chemical elements are chemical species that include a set of atoms having the same atomic number (same number of protons in the atomic nucleus). A chemical formula shows the chemical elements present in a certain chemical compound and also, the ratios between these elements.
What is Chemical Symbol?
Chemical symbol is a code that identifies a certain chemical element. Every different chemical element has a particular symbol that denotes the element. In addition, we can give chemical symbols for some functional groups as well. For example, “Me” is the symbol for a methyl group, and “ph” is the symbol for a phenyl group. The periodic table of elements show all the chemical symbols we use for elements. There are subscripts and superscripts attached to each symbol that gives the atomic number (superscript) and the mass number (subscript) of each element.
If an element has isotopes (atoms of the same element having the same atomic number but different mass numbers), we can identify them only by looking at the mass number, not the symbol or the atomic number because the symbol and the atomic number are the same for isotopes. The following periodic table shows the chemical symbol for each chemical element.
What is Chemical Formula?
Chemical formula is the formula that shows the chemical elements present in a chemical compound and the ratios between each element. A chemical formula includes chemical symbols, numbers and sometimes other symbols such as dashes, brackets, etc. It is not the name of the compound. Therefore, it has no words. Moreover, it does not show the chemical structure of the compound.
In addition, we cannot determine the type of chemical bonds existing between the atoms of the molecule. A molecular formula shows the actual ratio between atoms while empirical formula shows the least ratio between the atoms. For example, the chemical formula for glucose is C6H12O6, and the empirical formula is CH2O. Sometimes we use chemical formulas to show cations and anions. There, we should use plus symbol (+) for cations and minus symbol (-) for anions. Ex: sulfate ions is denoted by [SO4]2-.
What is the Difference Between Chemical Symbol and Chemical Formula?
A chemical symbol is a code that identifies a certain chemical element. This associate with some other symbols such as atomic number and mass number. Chemical formula is the formula that shows the chemical elements present in a chemical compound and the ratios between each element. This associate with other symbols such as dashes, brackets, plus and minus symbols, etc. This is the main difference between chemical symbol and chemical formula.
Summary – Chemical Symbol vs Chemical Formula
We use symbols in chemistry. That is to identify different chemical and elements. We use chemical formulas to identify the elements of a compound. The difference between chemical symbol and chemical formula is that we use a chemical symbol to name a certain chemical element whereas a chemical formula is used in naming a chemical compound.
1.’Periodic table’By User:Cepheus – Own work, (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia