In chemistry, an inorganic compound is typically a chemical compound that lacks carbon–hydrogen bonds, that is, a compound that is not an organic compound. However, the distinction is not clearly defined; authorities have differing views on the subject. 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.
Some simple compounds that contain carbon are often considered inorganic. Examples include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbides, and the following salts of inorganic cations: carbonates, cyanides, cyanates, and thiocyanates. Many of these are normal parts of mostly organic systems, including organisms; describing a chemical as inorganic does not necessarily mean that it does not 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. 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.