Organic Chemistry Facts



  • A giant container containing butane, a colorless, flammable gas used for fuel.
  • All living things are made basically of carbon compounds.
  • Organic chemistry is the study of compounds that contain carbon atoms.
  • Over 90% of all chemical compounds are organic.
  • Organic chemicals are the basis of most life processes.
  • Scientists once thought carbon compounds could only be made by living things. However, in 1828 Friedrich Wohler made the compound urea in his laboratory.
  • By far the largest group of carbon compounds are the hydrocarbons.
  • Aliphatic organic compounds are formed from long or branching chains of carbon atoms. They include ethane, propane and paraffin, and the alkenes from which many polymers are made.
  • Cyclic organic compounds are formed from closed rings of carbon atoms.
  • Aromatics are made from a ring of six atoms (mostly carbon), with hydrogen atoms attached. They get their name from the strong aroma (smell) of benzene.
  • Benzene is the most important aromatic. Friedrich Kekulee von Stradowitz discovered benzene’s six-carbon ring structure in 1865, after dreaming about a snake biting its own tail.
  • Isomers are compounds with the same atoms but different properties. Butane and 2-methyl propane in bottled gas are isomers.