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Carbon and its Compounds – Introduction

Symbols                                              –    C

Atomic number                              –     6

Atomic mass                                    –     12 (most common isotops)

Electronic configuration          –      K = 2 ; L = 4 (1s22s2 2p2)

Position in the periodic table  –     Period – II ; Group – IV

Characteristics                               –     Non-metal

Occurrence in nature                  –     Free and combind both


Carbon is an element which is of immense significance to us in both its elemental form and in the combined form.
Carbon can be classified as –

Classification of Carbon

Carbon compounds can be broadly classified into two categories –

(1) Inorganic compounds – Such compounds contain carbon as an integral part of the molecule. They do not derive from hydrocarbons but are associated with minerals. However, this definition is not rigid. They generally do not have carbon – carbon (C-C) bond. Example – CO, CO2, SiC, carbonate, bicarbonate etc. Carbon combines readily with a variety of elements to form binary compounds of oxides, halides, carbides etc. .

 (2) Organic compounds – Carbon compounds containing carbon – carbon (C-C) bonds (mostly) along with hydrogen and other elements like oxygen, sulphur, nitrogen, halogen etc., are called organic compounds.  Carbon compounds having only carbon and hydrogen are called hydrocarbons. It is parent class of organic compounds and further it can made all other classes of hydrocarbon subgroupings of compounds.

Examples – C2H6, C6H12, C2H2, C6H6 (hydrocarbons); ethylalcohol, sugar, starch (hydrocarbon subgrouping).

Carbon compounds are quite important in our life, which can be realised as –

  • Food – starch, sugar, fats, vitamins, proteins
  • Fuels – wood, coal, alcohol, petrol, kerosene, LPG, CNG, natural gas, diesel etc.
  • Household and commercial articles – paper, soap, detergent, leather, rubber, paint, plastic, cosmetics, oils, furniture (wood / plastic)
  • Textile fabrics – wool, cotton, silk, linen, rayon, nylon, terylene
  • Drugs and disinfectants – antipyretics, analgesic, antibiotic, sulpha drugs, penicillin, quinine, aspirin etc.
  • Poisons – opium, strychnine, CO gas
  • Perfumes – vanillin, camphor
  • Explosives – dynamites, picric acid, TNT
  • Dyes – indigo, cango red, malchite green
  • War gases – mustard gas, chloropicrin, lewisite

♦     Earth crust has only 0.02% carbon in the form of minerals (e.g. – carbonates, bicarbonates, coal, petroleum etc.) and atmosphere has 0.03% carbon dioxide. Inspite of its availability in such a small amount, it is highly important for our lives.                                                        
     ♦     Except water most of the things we use or consume (things made up of metal, glass, clay, food items, fuel etc.) in our everyday life are made up of carbon and its compounds.

Next –

Versatile Nature of Carbon

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