Organic Chemistry the Basics

Chemistry / 6 min read / 27 August 2021

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Lazy Science Reader,

Did you know that Carbon as an element is so versatile that it has its own branch of Chemistry?

Carbon, due to its magical properties can bond to itself, forming chains that can contain hundreds of atoms. It can also combine with a wide variety of other elements. Now, what is organic chemistry? Organic chemistry is that branch of chemistry that is concerned with the properties and reactions of compounds that contain carbon atoms. Well, where did it come from? The emergence of organic chemistry dates back to 19th Century Germany. Two chemists Justus von Liebig and Friedrich Wöhler established newly isolated and synthesized carbon compounds through their analytical methods. Both of them were aspiring teachers who established laboratory work as the basic model for chemical education, teaching students who came from all over Europe and America. The pupils then emulated their methods when they returned home to train the next generation of chemists.

Liebig’s major contribution to the new branch of science were his developments of quick methods for precise measurement of the quantities of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen in organic compounds. This allowed Liebig and his students to identify a host of new organic compounds. Wöhler is best known for synthesising urea, an organic compound, from inorganic compounds, a major milestone in the field of chemistry.

The next question you might ask is why do even need organic chemistry? You, mate, need organic compounds for literally everything. Ranging from everyday plastics to doing research in laboratories, we need our handy organic compounds everywhere. You know what they say, if you use something every day, you should know what it is. Well, they don’t actually say that, but they should. Now, let us look at one super basic organic structures and how it is named.

So, what we are talking about in this blog, are mainly hydrocarbons, which are the fundamental organic compounds. As you might have figured out from the name, in these structures carbon is bonded to hydrogen and itself. Carbon can also be bonded with other elements like nitrogen, oxygen, chlorine, etc. but let’s just focus on the basics. Look at this compound:

Methane molecular structure

Now, the formula is quite easy. Since there is one carbon atom and 4 hydrogen atoms, we call this CH4. This is the maximum number of hydrogen atoms one carbon atom can be bonded to as hydrogen has 1 valence electron and carbon has 4. So,doing the math, each valence electron of carbon bonds with one of hydrogen. Now, let us name it. In organic chemistry, each number from 1-9 has a specific syllable:
And a single bond between the atoms results with the suffix being –ane, Therefore, this compound will be called, you guessed it, Methane. Wow! We just named an organic structure. This process is called as nomenclature. This is how chemists give a name to complicated organic structures.

This is just a dip into the ocean of what we call Organic Chemistry. We hope you learned something and are curious to know more.


  • Around 18 percent of the human body is carbon atoms.
  • Every hydrogen atom in your body is likely 13.5 billion years old because they were created at the birth of the universe.
  • Diamond and graphite are both entirely made of carbon and nothing else
  • Up through the 1800s, common belief held that living things contained a "life force" that made them different from non-living things. This is actually why organic chemistry is called organic, meaning living, chemistry