Carbon and Its Compounds Introduction, Nature, Properties, Allotropes, Types and Uses

Carbon and Its Compounds

Everything is composed of carbon elements. From the computer to the clothes we wear, the vehicles we drive to the food we eat. All these have one thing in common, which is Carbon. The chapter on Carbon and its compounds is an interesting part of the chemistry subject. Comparing diamond and charcoal, we find one attractive, shiny, hard rock, whereas the other seems to be an ashy, black, and soft substance. These differ due to the arrangement of the carbon atoms in them. This blog mainly deals with the introduction, nature, properties, and types of Carbon. Keep reading to get a general idea about the topic.

Introduction to Carbon

Carbon is considered an essential non-metal. The word has been derived from the Latin word "carbo, "meaning coal/charcoal. Carbon is the most abundant chemical in most organic matter. Antoine Lavoisier discovered the carbon atom, denoted with the symbol C and its atomic number is 6. It is a tetravalent and non-metallic element with four electrons. In the periodic table, it sits in the 14th number. The Earth's crust consists of 0.02% carbon in the form of minerals, and 0.03% of carbons are present in the atmosphere. Carbon is a very adaptable and durable material. It has distinct features and is one of the most widely distributed elements. Its compounds, created through atomic bonding, can have opposing characteristics. Diamond, for example, is non-flammable and electrically inactive, but Graphite, another carbon molecule, is extremely combustible and electrically active.

Carbon Atom

The atomic number of Carbon is 6, which represents the number of electrons in the atom. Carbon is a non-metal that is symbolized by the letter C. It consists of protons, neutrons, and electrons, all of which have a count of six. Because it may connect with other carbon atoms to a nearly infinite degree, a carbon atom is regarded as unique and extraordinary. This is due to its atom's tiny size, which allows it to easily fit into bigger molecules. Each of its atoms contains four valence electrons in its outer shell, which may form chemical connections with molecules and other atoms.

Nature of Carbon

Carbon is versatile in nature as it can be understood by the fact that it has the ability to form single, double, and triple bonds. It also forms chains, rings, and branch chains when it connects with the other carbon atoms. The unique nature of carbon atoms allows for the existence of an endless number of carbon compounds in nature. It may produce a wide range of compounds due to its tetravalency and catenation properties.

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Causes of Versatile Nature of Carbon

The following are the several reasons behind the versatile nature of Carbon:

  • Tetravalency of Carbon

It exists in all organic substances of nature, living or non-living and thus making it the 4th most abundant element in the world. Carbon follows octet rules, and it has four electrons in its shell, so that is why it has four forms of the covalent bond; hence Carbon is tetravalent.

  • Multiple Bond Formation

Carbon's tiny size allows it to establish numerous bonds with both its own atoms and other elements. Carbon has the ability to make double and triple bonds, allowing it to build a large number of carbon compounds.

  • Catenation of Carbon

Carbon has the unusual capacity to combine with other elements to build bigger molecules. Catenation is the self-linking ability of carbon atoms to create lengthy chains, rings, and double or triple bonds with other carbon atoms.

  • Isomerism

Carbon can possess different properties and structures with the molecular formula. It is called isomerism.

Types of Carbon Compound

Carbon compound is of two types based on the number of bonds that exists between the C atom and are involved in the form formation of compound:

1. Saturated Carbon Compound

Carbon and hydrogen molecules with only one (carbon-carbon) bond between neighboring carbon atoms are known as saturated hydrocarbons. Carbon-hydrogen bonds are also single covalent bonds. Saturated compounds are those in which all four carbon bonds have been fully used and no additional hydrogen or other atoms may connect to them. As a result, substitution reactions are their sole option. They also represent open-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons. Saturated hydrocarbons, such as alkanes, are a form of saturated hydrocarbon.

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2. Unsaturated Hydrocarbons

Carbon-hydrogen compounds having one double covalent link between carbon atoms (carbon=carbon) or a triple covalent bond between carbon atoms are known as unsaturated hydrocarbons. Because hydrogen atoms do not consume all of the carbon bonds in these molecules, they can attach to more of them. They undergo addition reactions (add on hydrogen) because they have two or more hydrogen atoms fewer than saturated hydrocarbons (alkanes).

Unsaturated hydrocarbons are classed as 'alkenes' or 'alkynes,' depending on whether they have double or triple bonds.

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Properties of Saturated And Unsaturated Carbon Compounds

The below table represents the properties of saturated and unsaturated carbon compounds:

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Uses of Carbon Compound

The human body is made up of 18% carbon. Carbohydrates (carbon atoms) are an essential energy source in the food we eat. It is present in our bodies as sugar, glucose, and proteins.

Hydrocarbons are utilized as fuel and are extracted naturally as fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. The petrochemical industry uses some of the hydrocarbons as a feedstock to make polymers, paints, fibers, solvents, and plastics.

Paints, inks, and batteries are all made from amorphous Carbon.

Graphite is used in pencils, electric motor brushes, furnace linings, and steel manufacturing.

Activated charcoal is present in respirators and is used for purification and filtration.

Carbon fiber is utilized in tennis rackets, fishing rods, skis, and even rockets and airplanes as a strong yet lightweight material.

Diamonds are made of Carbon and are used in jewelry. Industrial diamonds are used to cut rocks and perform drilling because diamonds are the hardest material known to man. Diamond films are also utilized to protect surfaces in razor blades.

Properties of Carbon Compounds

The following are the physical and chemical properties of Carbon.

Physical Properties of Carbon

Due to the weak force of attraction ( that is, the intermolecular force of attraction) between the molecules, most organic compounds have boiling and melting points.

It is a non-metallic element and exists in numerous forms. It is usually soft, drab, and grey in color.

When optically constructed, diamond is an outstanding type of Carbon that is the hardest substance on the planet and is extremely dazzling.

Carbon comes in a variety of allotropes, each with its own set of physical and chemical characteristics.

In the form of Graphite, Carbon can carry electricity.

A covalent connection between two atoms of Carbon requires four electrons.

Carbon can swiftly create bonds with other atoms and build big molecules through catenation.

Carbon may connect with other carbon atoms as well as other monovalent elements due to its valency.

The carbon bonds that other elements create are extremely strong. As a result, these molecules are extremely stable.

Chemical Properties of Carbon

Refer to the chart below to understand the chemical properties of Carbon:



Melting point

Sublimes at 3825°C, 6917°F, 4098 K

Atomic Number


Boiling point

Sublimes at 3825°C, 6917°F, 4098 K

State at 20°C


Relative atomic mass


Electron Configuration

[He]2s2 2p2

Key Isotopes




CAS number




Density (g cm−3)

3.513 (diamond); 2.2 (graphite)

The following are the four most important properties of the Carbon:

Combustion of Carbon Compounds

Combustion is the process of releasing carbon dioxide, water, heat, and light from a carbon molecule in the air. Burning is another term for combustion. Carbon and its components create carbon dioxide, vapor, heat, and light when they are burnt in the air.

Heat energy = Hydrocarbon + Oxygen

The combustion reaction is represented by the formula above. The majority of carbon compounds burn in the atmosphere, producing a great deal of heat. When alkanes, for example, burn in the air, they create a lot of heat, making them ideal fuels.

C + O2 → CO2 + heat and light

CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2O + heat and light

CH3CH2OH + 3O2 → 2CO2 + 3H2O + heat and light

Oxidation of Carbon Compound

An oxidation reaction is one in which an oxygen atom is added or one in which a hydrogen atom is removed. However, not all oxidation processes include the addition or removal of hydrogen atoms.

2 CuO = 2 Cu + O2

Copper (Cu) interacts with oxygen to generate copper oxide in the reaction described above (CuO).

Oxidizing agents are compounds that may supply oxygen to other substances or remove hydrogen from them. Potassium permanganate and acidified potassium dichromate are powerful oxidizers.

Addition Reaction of Carbon Compound

The unsaturated carbons combine with hydrogen to produce a single product. In the presence of catalysts, for example, palladium, and nickel, these reactions take place. These are commonly used in the hydrogenation of vegetable oils using a nickel catalyst.

CH2 = CH2 + H2 → CH3- CH3

Substitute Reaction of Carbon Compound

These are single displacement reactions where the less reactive element is replaced by, the more reactive element. This is mainly seen in saturated hydrocarbon. It exists when it reacts with chlorine in the presence of sunshine. As chlorine is more reactive, it displaces the hydrogen atoms to form saturated hydrocarbons.

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Know About Few Carbon Based Compounds

The following are the carbon-based compound;

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Existence of Carbon Compound

Carbon makes up around 0.5% of the universe's mass and is considered to be one of the most abundant heavy elements. The material that formed the solar system was rich in Carbon; however, the crust of the Earth is only made up of 0.025% carbon. However, Carbon is abundant in living things, accounting for about a quarter of the atoms in our tissues.

Carbon compounds can be found in three different forms:

1. Straight Chain

When one carbon atom is bonded to another carbon and forms a straight line without creating any branches forms a straight-chain carbon compound such as hydrocarbons with a low molecular weight such as ethene.

2. Branches

Carbon compounds with a larger molecular weight are usually branched, meaning that one of the carbon atoms is bound to more than two others. Isopentane, for example.

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3. Rings

When three or more carbon atoms are bonded or linked together in such a way that they form closed cycles such as cyclohexane.

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Nomenclature of Carbon Compound

Nomenclature is the consideration in the system which designs the suitable name for the particular carbon compound based on the rules. Most carbon compounds have one or two names:

  • Trivial names
  • IUPAC names

Tribal Names

Trivial names are the common names for carbon compounds. The word formic acid, for example, is derived from the Greek phrase "formicus," which means "red ants." The names that came back were hazy and repetitious.


It becomes easy to select the name in a more methodical manner when the carbon compound increases. IUPAC ( International  Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry) presented the system of naming the carbon compound along with the valid scientific name. The naming of the carbon compound includes three main parts:

  • Wood Root:

It displays the number of carbon atoms in specific molecules. Such as C1−Meth, C2−Eth, C3−Prop, C4−But.

  • Suffix:

It refers to the functional group that exists in the carbon chain for example,

  • 'al' for aldehydes - (-CHO)
  • 'yne' - (triple bond)
  • 'oic acid' for carboxylic acid - (-COOH)
  • Prefix:

It represents the positions of another functional group. Such as the following compound can also be called:

  • Word root: But (C4)
  • Prefix: 3, chloro
  • Suffix: -ol
  • Name: 3-chloro butanol

The following chart shows the IUPAC name of numerous chemical compounds as well as their trivial names and formula:

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The naming of a chemical compound includes the following four steps;

  • The current functional group has been determined. This enables us to choose the appropriate suffix or prefix. For example, the functional group in the following chemical is carboxylic acid, while the suffix is oic acid.
  • The length of the longest continuous chain in the functional group is determined. The longest continuous chain in the chemical above has five carbon atoms. As a result, the basic name is pentane.
  • The chain is numbered using the approach of assigning the functional group with the lowest possible number. In the given compound, the Carbon of the carboxylic acid is number one, and the Carbon of the branching is number three.
  • Following that, a name is chosen. At carbon 3, the prefix (CH3) is an alkyl group. The name of the compound is thus finished (3-methylpentanoic acid).

Bonding In Carbon – Covalent Bond

Covalent is defined as the force of attraction originating from the mutual sharing of electrons between atoms. It is created by the electrons between two similar or dissimilar atoms having mutual sharing and contributing to the stability of both atoms. It is mainly displayed with the tiny line ( -), connecting the two atoms. Covalent compounds are compounds generated by covalent bonding.

Properties of Covalent Bonding

  • Covalent chemicals exist as molecules rather than ions.
  • At normal temperatures, they exist as liquids or gases. Some compounds, such as urea and sugar, exist in solid form.
  • In general, covalent compounds have low melting and boiling points.
  • Covalent chemicals are frequently insoluble or less soluble in water and other polar solvents.
  • These materials are poor conductors of electricity when fused or dissolved.
  • It is created between the nuclei of atoms, and the covalent bond is directed in nature.
  • A covalent bond can be formed in a variety of ways. A single covalent bond,' also known as a single bond,' is a link formed by the mutual sharing of one pair of electrons. A relationship produced by the mutual sharing of more than one pair of electrons is called "multiple covalent bonds." A double or triple covalent bond is an example of this type of bond.

Types of Covalent Bond

Carbon has an atomic number of 6 and, hence, an electrical configuration of 2,4. Carbon requires four electrons to create the inert gas electrical state. Carbon, on the other hand, cannot create an ionic connection. As a result, it might either receive or lose four electrons, resulting in C4- or C4+ cations. However, holding on to ten electrons would be tough for the nucleus with six protons, and losing electrons would need the energy to remove four electrons.

As a result, Carbon shares its valence electrons with other carbon atoms or with atoms of other elements to overcome this difficulty. A covalent bond is a link established between two atoms in a molecule due to the mutual sharing of electron pairs. Single covalent bonds, double covalent bonds, and triple covalent bonds are the three forms of covalent bonds.

  • Single bond: A single covalent bond is produced when two electrons are shared between two atoms in a molecule. (For instance, F2, Cl2, H2, and so on.)
  • Double bond: When two atoms in a molecule share two pairs of electrons, a double covalent bond is established. (For instance, O2, CO2, and so on.)
  • Triple bond: When two atoms in a molecule share three pairs of electrons, a triple covalent bond is created. For example, N2.
  • Multiple bonds: it is a combination of double and triple bonds.

Allotropes of Carbon

Allotropy is a phenomenon in which two elements exist in two or more distinct physical states yet have comparable chemical characteristics.

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Apart from the above sub-topics, the chapter includes isomers and isomerism, soap and detergents, and many others. If you are in search of the best class 10th chemistry tutor to understand the topics from scratch, then join our chemistry coaching class at an affordable fee structure and avail the following benefits:

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