Introduction to Organic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry is known as the branch of chemistry, originally limited to substances found only in living organisms, dealing with the compounds of carbon. It involves the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reaction, and preparation of chemical compounds consisting primarily of carbon and hydrogen. Just because its name is “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s living. The name “organic chemistry” came from the misconception that organic compounds were always related to life processes. On the contrary, organic molecules can be produced by processes not involving life. Typically, organic chemists use a process known as vitalism, which is a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces.

The first breakthrough in organic chemistry came when chemists realized organic compounds were similar to inorganic compounds of ways they could be treated. Chemists also realized organic compounds could be created in a laboratory by means other than vitalism. Around 1816 Michel Chevreul started a study of soaps made from various fats and alkali. He separated the different acids, when joined with alkali, produced the soap. Since these were all individual compounds, he demonstrated that it was possible to make a chemical change in various fats producing new compounds, without vital force.

The crucial breakthrough for the theory of organic chemistry was the concept of chemical structure, developed separately by Friedrich August Kekule and Archibald Scott Couper in 1858. Both men suggested that tetravalent carbon atoms could link to each other to form a carbon lattice, and the detailed patterns of atomic bonding could be discerned by skillful interpretations of appropriate chemical reactions.

It’s not possible to classify an organic substances without being described individual compounds. One way of identifying an organic substance is by drawing its structural formula. Other ways of identifying organic substances is by the line angle formula, which is a simplified version of its molecular structure. Organic substances are classified by their molecular structural arrangement and by what other atoms are present along with the chief constituent in their makeup.

In conclusion, here are some characteristics of organic compounds. Organic compounds are typically covalently bonded and they usually dissolve in organic solvents which are ether or ethyl alcohol. Organic compounds may also form crystals, like those of inorganic salts. Organic compounds consist of carbon atoms, hydrogen atoms, and functional groups.