In chemistry, an inorganic compound is typically a chemical compound that lacks carbon–hydrogen bondsthat is, a compound that is not an organic compound.[1][2] The study of inorganic compounds is a subfield of chemistry known as inorganic chemistry.

Inorganic compounds comprise most of the Earth's crust, although the compositions of the deep mantle remain active areas of investigation.[3]

All allotropes (structurally different pure forms of an element) and some simple carbon compounds are often considered inorganic. Examples include the allotropes of carbon (graphite, diamond, buckminsterfullerene, graphene, etc.), carbon monoxide CO, carbon dioxide CO2, carbides, and salts of inorganic anions such as carbonates, cyanides, cyanates, thiocyanates, isothiocyanates, phosphates, sulphates, chlorates, etc. Many of these are normal parts of mostly organic systems, including organisms; describing a chemical as inorganic does not necessarily mean that it cannot occur within living things.


Friedrich Wöhler's conversion of ammonium cyanate into urea in 1828 is often cited as the starting point of modern organic chemistry.[4][5][6] In Wöhler's era, there was widespread belief that organic compounds were characterized by a vital spirit. In the absence of vitalism, the distinction between inorganic and organic chemistry is merely semantic.

Modern usage

See also


  1. ^ J. J. Berzelius "Lehrbuch der Chemie," 1st ed., Arnoldischen Buchhandlung, Dresden and Leipzig, 1827. ISBN 1-148-99953-1. Brief English commentary in English can be found in Bent Soren Jorgensen "More on Berzelius and the vital force" J. Chem. Educ., 1965, vol. 42, p 394. doi:10.1021/ed042p394
  2. ^ Dan Berger, Bluffton College, analysis of varying inappropriate definitions of the inorganic-organic distinction: Otherwise consistent linked material differing from current article in downplaying the carbon present vs carbon absent distinctive: [1]
  3. ^ Newman, D. K.; Banfield, J. F. (2002). "Geomicrobiology: How Molecular-Scale Interactions Underpin Biogeochemical Systems". Science. 296 (5570): 1071–1077. Bibcode:2002Sci...296.1071N. doi:10.1126/science.1010716. PMID 12004119. S2CID 1235688.
  4. ^ May, Paul. "Urea". Molecules in Motion. Imperial College London. Archived from the original on 2015-03-17.
  5. ^ Cohen, Paul S.; Cohen, Stephen M. (1996). "Wöhler's Synthesis of Urea: How do the Textbooks Report It?". Journal of Chemical Education. 73 (9): 883. doi:10.1021/ed073p883.
  6. ^ Ramberg, Peter J. (2000). "The Death of Vitalism and the Birth of Organic Chemistry: Wohler's Urea Synthesis and the Disciplinary Identity of Organic Chemistry". Ambix. 47 (3): 170–195. doi:10.1179/amb.2000.47.3.170. PMID 11640223. S2CID 44613876.
  7. ^ "Inorganic Crystal Structure Database" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-30. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
  8. ^ "Volumes - Inorganic Syntheses".
  9. ^ IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version: (2006–) "inorganic polymer". doi:10.1351/goldbook.IT07515