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Published: Kem. Ind. 71 (7-8) (2022) 507–512
Paper reference number: KUI-44/2021
Paper type: Professional paper / Chemistry in Teaching
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How to Define Organic Chemistry?

N. Raos


All organic compounds are carbon compounds, but all carbon compounds are not organic compounds. Which are criteria to distinguish the two classes of compounds and therefore organic from inorganic chemistry? The answer lies in the difference of physical and chemical properties, of which carbonization is of utmost importance; organic compounds should be labelled as “carbogens” (Corey). The second criterion is the difference in oxidation state of carbon – in organic compounds it is “reduced” (OS ≤ 0). Historical analysis shows, however, that the term “organic substance” has changed its meaning (from “belong to organic (organized) body” to “carbon compound”) and that the difference between the two branches of chemistry is basically conventional.

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chemical education, history of chemistry, organic chemistry, reduced carbon, carbogen