What are organic compounds?

Organic compounds

To talk about organic compounds it is necessary to talk about chemical compounds which are the result of a combination of two or more elements following certain rules and proportions. There are many types of chemical compounds and in order to study them they are divided into different groups, among them we find organic ones such as proteins , nucleic acids and fats .

Organic compounds What are they, characteristics, types, properties, examples 

What are organic compounds?

An organic compound is a chemical that is composed of a carbon and a hydrogen in the molecule and that has bonds that can be carbon-carbon, carbon-nitrogen, or carbon-hydrogen.

  • Characteristics of organic compounds
  • Types of organic compounds
  • Properties
  • Formulation
  • What elements make them up
  • How they are formed
  • What are organic compounds for?
  • Importance
  • Environmental impact
  • How they differ from inorganic compounds
  • Why are they more abundant than inorganic compounds
  • Examples of organic compounds

Characteristics of organic compounds

Among its main features are the following:

  • They are made up mainly of carbon .
  • They may have other elements in their composition such as sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen and boron.
  • They are not commonly found in the natural state.
  • They are combustible- type compounds so they can be burned.
  • It is also known as an organic molecule .
  • They do not have the ability to conduct electricity .
  • They are not soluble in water either, but they are soluble in organic solvents.
  • Their boiling points are extremely low since the forces that bind them are quite weak.
  • Their chemical reactions are quite slow and generally not quantitative.
  • They are formed by means of covalent bonds .

Types of organic compounds

There are several types of organic compounds among which we mention:

  • Alkanes : they are formed only by carbon and hydrogen atoms which are joined by covalent bonds and are part of hydrocarbons. In this group we find methane, ethane and propane .
  • Alkenes : it has double bonds and they are unsaturated, they are generally found in nature, such as vitamin A.
  • Alkynes : they are also hydrocarbons and have a triple bond that makes them stronger. They are not easily found in nature and have a highly variable melting point .
  • Aromatic hydrocarbons : they are also called arenes and contain a group formed by three pairs of atoms which are joined by means of double bonds. They are called aromatic because they give off a very strong odor, for example naphthalene.
  • Alcohols and phenols : this group is composed of a hydroxyl group attached to the aryl ring. They are common to find in nature.
  • Esters : they have an oxygen atom that joins two carbon atoms, they are found freely in nature and in this group we find epoxides.
  • Thiols : they have great similarity with alcohols but they do not have an oxygen atom, on the contrary, they contain a sulfur atom. Their main characteristic is that they have a bad smell.
  • Amines : they are formed by an alkyl group and are alkane compounds.
  • Aldehydes and ketones : they are made up of carbon atoms that are attached to the carbonyl group . Many of them are responsible for giving the flavor and smell of fruits and vegetables.
  • Halides : have carbon atoms that are attached to the halogen atom. Examples of them are chlorine, iodine and bromine.
  • Carboxylic acids : found in nature and in some products consumed by humans such as vinegar.


Among its physical properties we can mention that this type of compound can be found in solid , liquid and gaseous states . They can be found in natural raw materials which can be of vegetable or animal origin .

Regarding the chemical properties of organic compounds, they are linked type covalent which are formed by pairs of electrons shared. They can be distilled very easily and have a melting point of 300 ° Celsius. They are thermolabile , this means that they have little resistance to heat and tend to burn easily, producing CO2 and H2O. Many organic compounds have isomerism so they are capable of having identical formulas with respect to the number and type of elements that make them up. They also have the ability to carry out the polymerization process resulting in the formation of plastic.


The nomenclature of organic compounds is extensive and is done following the following rules:

  • Alkanes : if they are straight chain, they are named using the prefix that shows the number of carbon atoms followed by the ending “anus”.
  • Alkenes : the end “ene” is added to the longest chain that has a double bond . Carbon atoms must be numbered and substituents listed in alphabetical order.
  • Alkynes : the place where the triple bond is must be indicated and the chain numbering begins at the end closest to the bond.
  • Aromatic hydrocarbons : they are systematically named with the suffix “benzene” .
  • Alkyl halides : they are named in the same way as alkanes and if there is a double or triple bond it must be indicated.
  • Alcohols : for the main group the suffix “ol” is used and when it is a substituent the prefix known as “hydroxy” is used.
  • Ethers : their nomenclature is made using general nomenclature systems either by substitution or by functional group.
  • Aldehydes : the suffix “al” is used for the main group and when it is attached to a ring the prefix “carbaldehyde” is used.
  • Halides : for the main group the prefix “oyl” is used and when they are attached to a ring “carbonyl” is used.

What elements make them up

Organic compounds are made up mainly of carbon atoms combined with hydrogen atoms . These can also be nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, fluorine and bromine among others.

How they are formed

The vast majority of organic compounds are found in nature but they can also be produced artificially in laboratories following a series of steps and chemical mixtures to achieve it.

What are organic compounds for?

They are used to produce biological energy and to release energy from hydrocarbons. Many of them intervene in the different biological processes of living beings, making life possible. They are the source from which crude oil is extracted , which is why they are considered the most important source in the world in terms of energy.


They are of great importance because they represent the basis of life on earth. They are also important because, thanks to them, living beings have the ability to carry out different types of biological processes such as metabolism. In addition, they are an important part of carbohydrates , food , nucleic acids and lipids , all necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Environmental impact

The excessive use of organic compounds has caused the greenhouse effect due to the fact that there is an increase in the carbon dioxide found in the atmosphere, preventing the heat energy from being reflected in space and, for this reason, increasing the temperature in the Earth. Many of them are also used in the manufacture of pesticides which are used indiscriminately polluting the environment .

How they differ from inorganic compounds

The main difference is that organic ones will always contain carbon while inorganic ones will not. Another difference is that organic compounds are produced by molecules that are associated with living beings while inorganic ones are produced with natural processes or through processes in chemical laboratories . Finally, the organic ones are formed by covalent bonds while the inorganic ones by ionic bonds .

Why are they more abundant than inorganic compounds

This is because organic compounds are composed of carbon , which has the ability to create compounds within the environment itself, thus forming combinations with basically everything in the environment.

Examples of organic compounds

Organic compounds essential for life

  • Sugars: like glucose or starch
  • Lipids like fatty acids
  • Proteins and oils
  • Macronutrients such as carbohydrates, starches, starches, and vitamins

In cleaning products

  • Body and hand soaps
  • Laundry detergents

Other examples

  • Methane
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Cellulose
  • Acetone
  • Octyl acetate

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