What is Organic Chemistry?

organic chemistry

Vermont Organic Science has “organic” as our middle name. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, we sell USDA certified organic products and we organically extract hemp to make those products. We are proud of our organic ethos and our history with organic chemistry.

The second reason is that I am an organic chemist, and proud of it. Now you may think organic products and services are the purpose of organic chemistry, and you are right. But organic chemistry if much, much more than that. Let’s discuss some basics of organic chemistry.

Carbon

To a chemist, organic chemistry the chemistry of the carbon atom. Carbon readily forms chemical bonds with itself, allowing for chains and rings of carbons. Most carbons also are bound to hydrogen, which leads to the term hydrocarbon. A hydrocarbon is a molecule that only contains carbon and hydrogen. 

Carbon also readily bonds to many other elements. Oxygen is one. Mix hydrogen and oxygen and you get water (H2O). Add a carbon atom and you get the generic formula C(H2O). This is a carbohydrate, and many sugars (sugars are the simplest carbohydrates) are made of 5 or 6 carbons in a ring with a “water” molecule attached to each carbon: C5(H2O)5 or C6(H2O)6. Of course, it’s a bit more complex than that, but carbohydrates are amongst the most important organic molecules. The backbone of DNA is made up of carbohydrates, as are all starches.

Carbon also “likes” to bind to nitrogen. Amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. More complex carbon rings that contain nitrogen make up the base pairs of DNA that store our genetic information.

So, carbon is the element of life. Without its ability to make very strong chemical bonds to itself, the molecules of life would not be stable, and we would not exist. The science behind organic chemistry is deep and rich, with 1000-page textbooks devoted to introductory concepts. We hope this little blog will increase your appreciation of this science.

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