What is Inorganic Chemistry? - Definition, Impact Factor & Examples

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  • 0:01 Inorganic Chemistry
  • 1:21 Acids
  • 1:52 Bases
  • 2:19 Salts
  • 3:08 Oxides
  • 3:25 Inorganic Chemistry Reactions
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Alfonso Reina
With this lesson, you will learn the definition of inorganic chemistry. You will also learn the types of inorganic compounds, how they react and their applications in several industry sectors.

Inorganic Chemistry

We hear about organic mostly in terms of food, where it means that whatever you're about to eat was grown without the use of pesticides. But in chemistry, the word organic means you're dealing with carbon compounds. Carbon is an element you might be familiar with. It's an element that is present in all forms of life and is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. Organic chemistry is basically the study of carbon-hydrogen bonds. Inorganic chemistry, on the other hand, is the opposite. It is the study of the formation, synthesis, and properties of compounds that do not contain carbon-hydrogen bonds.

There are around 100,000 known inorganic compounds, while there are around two million known organic compounds. Examples of inorganic compounds include:

  • Sodium chloride (NaCl): used as table salt
  • Silicon dioxide (SiO2): used in computer chips and solar cells
  • Sapphire (Al2O3): a well-known gemstone
  • Sulfuric acid (H2SO4): a chemical widely used in the production of fertilizers and some household products such as drain cleaners

Common applications of inorganic compounds. A) Table salt. B) Integrated electronic circuits. C) Jewelry. D) Drain cleaners.

Inorganic compounds can be classified as acids, bases, salts, and oxides. Let's talk about them in a little more detail:


Acids are compounds that produce H+ ions when dissolved in water. Examples of acids include sulfuric acid (HSO4), hydrochloric acid (HCl), hydrofluoric acid (HF), ascetic acid or vinegar (HC2H3O2), and citric acid (C6H8O7). Most acids can be dissolved in water and are corrosive, and those that can be ingested have a sour taste. In water, HCl is decomposed in H+ and Cl-

HCl ---- (H+) + (Cl-)


Bases are compounds that produce OH- (hydroxyl ions) when dissolved in water. They are usually found in household products. Some common bases are ammonia (NH3), potassium hydroxide (KOH), calcium hydroxide or caustic lime (Ca2OH), and sodium hydroxide or caustic soda (NaOH). In water, KOH dissociates in K+ and OH- :

KOH ---- (K+) + (OH-)


Salts are compounds that result from the reaction between an acid and a base. They are ionic compounds formed by two oppositely charged ions (atoms that are not electrically neutral because they have lost or gained one or more electrons). For example, table salt or sodium chloride (NaCl) is formed by the bonding an anion (positively charged ion) and a cation (negatively charged ion): Na+ and Cl-.

Some common salts include sodium chloride or table salt (NaCl), calcium chloride (CaCl2), magnesium chloride (MgCl2), and potassium chloride (KCl). Most salts can be dissolved in water to form a solution of the ions. Ions derived from salts like Na+, Mg+2, and K+ are critical for the functioning of the human body. In water, CaCl2 is decomposed in the following way:

CaCl2 ----- (Ca+2) + (Cl-)


Oxides are compounds that contain at least one oxygen atom combined with another element. Oxygen is usually in the form of an anion (O2-). Transition metal oxides such as titanium (III) oxide (Ti2O3) and iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3) have useful magnetic and catalytic properties. Let's go over some examples of reactions.

Examples of Inorganic Chemistry Reactions

The production of inorganic chemicals involves the transformation of compounds and raw materials. Most reactions involving inorganic compounds can be classified as follows:

  • Combination reactions: two substances react to form a third. For example:

Ba + F2 ----- BaF2

  • Decomposition reactions: one substance decomposes to form two. For example:

FeS ----- Fe + S

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