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Organic Chemistry

The organic chemistry bases on the carbon atom. It is the only atom which is able to make very long chains or nets. Many of them are a part of our food and the living nature and so they are called organic. All substances of which human beings are made are organic. Organic substances can be huge molecules. An organic moelcule of 50 atoms is nothing special. An inorganic molecule of 50 atoms will be a wonder. most of the organic compounds is only made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, but there exist much more organic than inorganic compunds. Other elements are phosphorus and sulfur and sometimes other elements. Organometallic compounds also exist.


Hydrocarbons are the most simple organic compounds and they are very important. They consist of the two elements carbon and hydrogen. Oil and natural gas are important hydrocarbons which are used for many things. Now we will look at the alkanes, alkenes and alkines.

Alkanes: Alkanes are the satisfied hydrocarbons. Every carbon atom has got four connections to other atoms and so the noble gas configuration is reached (8 outer electrons). Every hydrogen atom has got one connection and so 2 outer electrons, which is the most stable state for hydrogen. In alkanes we can only find single bonds. The most simple alkane is methane. It has got the formula CH4. The second alkane is ethane and has got the formula C2H6. The generell formula of alkanes is CnH2n+2.

The table shows the first four alkanes. They are methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10). On the left are the sum formulas. In the middle there are the structural formulas and on the right there are the half structural formulas. The structural formulas show us that cains are the most simple form of alkanes. There are also other possible structures. There are also cycloalkanes. The generell formula of cycloalkanes is CnH2n. They are also satisfied, because they from a ring. So the one end of the cain is connected with the other end of the cain and so they are satisfied. It begins with cyclopropane, because the cains of the lower hydrocarbons are to short. Cyclopropane has got the formula C3H6 and cyclobutane has got the formula C4H8.

Here we see the structural formula of cyclobutane. All alkanes are inflammable and the product of the burning is carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). It is interesting that alkanes are a gas at room temperature. From pentane (C5H12) they are liquid at room temperature. I have already mentioned that there are polar and nonpolar bonds. Hydrocarbons are nonpolar and so van der Waals-strenghts act between them. Between short alkanes these strengths are weak and so they are a gas at room temperature. With the growing number of carbon atoms the van der Waals-strengths grow, too. Longer hydrocarbons are liquid and later even solid. The first alkanes are not malicious (toxically).

Methane: Methane is the main substance of natural gas and is often used as heating gas. His melting point is -184 degrees and his boiling point is -164 degrees. It originates in the sump in many fermentation processes and is often called sump gas. Often we can see little flames in sump which are burning methane. It is a colorless and odorless gas which burns with a blue flame. The density of methane is lower than the density of air. It is not toxically. Methane is made throught the refining of oil and also in fermentation processes. In oil boreings it flows out of the earth, because of the natural pressure. Its density is lower than the density of oil and so it lies over the oil. Methane is used as heating gas, but also for different synthesis processes. Prussic acid (HCN) is made of methane. Methane is nonpolar and so it does not dissolve well in water, but in gasoline and in alcohols. Methane is also the main substance of fermentation gas, because it originates in fermentation processes.

Propane and butane: The melting point of propane is -190 degress and the boiling point is -42 degrees. The melting point of butane is -135 degrees and the boiling point is -0.5 degrees. They are colorless and odorless. They are made of oil and natural gas. These both gases are often used as a mixture. They are both inflammable. They dissolve well in alcohols and gasoline, but bad in water. They are used for lighter oder other gas burner. They are called liquid gases, because they become liquid with a little pressure. In lighters we do not see a gas, but a liquid. These mixtures are also used camping gas. Both of the gas burners on the photos reach a temperatur of 1800 degress. The red burner uses cartouches with butane and the other burner uses a mixture ot propane and butane. You can work quite long with these catouches. With strong supply of oxygen from the air the flame has got a blue color. Propane and butane are not malicious. Higher concentrations act anaesthetizing. They are used for cooling purposes, for example in refrigerators or as propellants for spray bottles. They replace the fluorine chlorinated hydrocarbons which have promoted the greenhouse effect.

Gas burner

Gas burner

Gas burner

Alkenes: Alkenes differ from the alkanes, because they are insatiated hydrocarbons. That means that in a molecule not all carbon atoms are satisfied with a hydrogen atom. The generell formula is CnH2n. There double so much hydrogen atoms than carbon atoms. Two carbon atoms make a doucle bond. All alkenes have got a double bond.

Ethene C2H4
Propene C3H6
Butene C4H8
Pentene C5H10

These are the first alkenes. On the bottom there is the structural formula of propene. The sum formulas of alkenes are the same as the sum formulas of cycloalkanes. So the sum formula does not tell us if it is an alkene or a cycloalkane. There are also alkenes with two double bonds. They have got the formula CnH2n-2. There are also cycloalkenes. They have got the generell formula CnH2(n-m). The letter m in the formula is the number of the double bonds. So cyclopropene has got the formula C3H4 and cyclobutene has got the formula C4H6. The properties of the alkenes and the alkanes are very similiar. They are inflammable and alkenes with long chains are liquid at room temerpature. The first alkenes are not toxically.

Alkines: The alkines are also insatiated hydrocarbons, but they have got triple bonds. The generell formula is CnH2n-2. They are very unstably and so they are very reactively. Ethine for example is an important welding gas.

Ethine C2H2
Propine C3H4
Butine C4H6
Pentine C5H8

These are the first alkines. Below them there is the structural formula of propin.

Aromatics: Aromatics are a special type of organic materials. Many of them base on the benzene ring. When we see benzene we can think that it is a cycloalkene. Scientists have discovered that benzene has got a very strong mesomerism. In other substances with double bonds mesomersim is also possible, but not as strong that in benzene. Throught a hydrogenation of benzene it is possible to see that less energy is emited than from a normal cycloalken. Because of the mesomerism the formula of benzene with three double bonds is wrong. They are in the whole molecule and they cannot be localized. Often benzene is drawn with a circle in the middle instead of double bonds. The next effect of the mesomerism is that benzene is a very stable substance. many substances base on the benzene ring. Naphthalene (C10H8) is made of two benzene rings which are connected. These substances are called aromatics. Other atoms can also be part of the side chain. Most of the substances that we eat contain the benzene ring or other rings, but also with oxygen atoms and nitrogen atoms. Not every ring system has got a mesomerism.

The structural formula of naphthalene:

Benzene: Benzene has got the formula C6H6. He has got a ring with three double bonds. This benzene ring is very stable. Benzene burns and the products are water and carbon dioxide. Benzene originate in the distillation and cracking of oil. Benzene is a very toxically substance. Even little quantities of benzene are deadly. The inhalation of little quantities over a long time can cause cancer. It can be absorbed throught the skin. swindle features and nausea are the first symptoms of a benzene poisoning. Benzene has got a melting point of 5.5 degrees and a boiling point of 80.1 degrees. It is very important for the industry. It is also a gasoline additive to have a higher anti-knock quality. All aromatics (another type of hydrocarbons) are based on the benzene ring and so it is a very important substance. It is the most simple aromatic. When one hydrogen atom of benzene is replaced by a methyl group (CH3), then it is toluene (methylbenzene). In xylene two hydrogen atoms are replaced by methyl groups. With two methyl groups three structures of xylene are possible and so there are three xylenes. Toluene and the xylenes are less toxically than benzene.

The structural formula of benzene:

The structural formula of toluene:

Oil: Because of the importance of oil I will explain it seperated. Scientists say that oil have got an organic source. Since 10 to 15 million years dead small organisms, like plankton, were collected at the bottom of the sea. They were covered by sand and so without oxygen. They slowly destroyed and because of the missing oxygen hydrocarbons were the products. This destroying was done by bacteria, which are also organic and so the origin of oil could only take place below 200 degrees. It is possible that until today oil originates. Often oil is black, but there are also other types, because oil is a mixture of different substances. It is logical when we thin about the origin of oil. Some part of the mainland where seas in former times, so that we can find oil on the mainland, too. There are different geological possibilities to find oil sources, but they are not completely reliably, so test boreings are very important. On the mainland there boreing towers which can bore severel kilometers deep, throught the stone layers. There are different boreing heads, for example diamond boreing heads. Often we have got layers in the earth. The upper layer is often natural gas, which consists of methane. Below that layer there is oil and then there is water, because water has got the highest density of these three substances. Often there is a high pressure, because of the big quantity of natural gas, oil and water, so that the oil comes out of the earth, after the destroying of the stone layers. After a certain time the pressure is gone and then we need pumps. Big oil sources are on the arabic peninsula, in North America and in Russia. The founded oil is transported by tanker or pipelines to the refinery. Pipelines run aboveground and underground. These pipelines are big pipes. Big tanker are a very cheap type, but dangerous, because of possible collisions. Tank trains and tank cars transport the products to the gas station or to a further processing. In the refinery the oil is distilled. At the distillation we get different fractions. It means that here we have got a boiling point separation. The first fractions are gases like methane, propane, butane. At higher temperatures we have got liquid hydrocarbons like gasolines, petroleum and kerosene (fuel for jets), Diesel and heating oils. At very high temperatures the products are bitumen (for streets) and other lubricants, so substances which are very high-viscocity. Short hydrocarbons (for example gasoline) are more used than longer (for example bitumen), so after the distillation many long hydrocarbons are cracked to get many short hydrocarbons. Substances like heptane (C7H16) and octane (C8H18) are important parts of gasoline. All these substances have to be refine (cleaned), because we had seen that oil is a mixture of different substances. The consumption of oil today is so high that we use more oil than new oil originates. Oil is used for plastics, medicines and cosmetics, too. The burning of oil makes much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the earth atmosphere which promotes the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect heats the earth.

Halogenated hydrocarbons: These substances are halogenated. It means that hydrogen atoms are replaced by halogen atoms. The most important halogenated hydrocarbons are the fluorochlorohydrocarbons. In former times they were used as power gas in sprays. They destroy the ozone layer and this is the reason why they were abolished. Another famous halogenated hydrocarbon is trichloromethane (CHCl3). It is also known as chloroform. In former times it was used as anaesthetic. We can see that three hydroegn atoms are replaced by three chlorine atoms. In former times halogenated hydrocarbons were used for chemical cleaning. Tetrachloroethene is a famous cleaner. Ethene has got only four hydrogen atoms. When we replaced all four hydrogen atoms by chlorine atoms then it has not got any hydrogen atoms. Then it is does not make sense to say halogenated hydrocarbon, but it is a halogenated carbon. There are also brominated substances like brombenzene (C6H5Br) and iodinated substances like iodmethane (CH3I). Most of the halogenated hydrocarbons are toxically and dangerous for the enviroment and so today other substances are used. In former times they were important for the chemical industry.

The structural formula of trichloromethane (chlorofrom):

Alcohols and phenol

When we look at the chemical formula the alcohols are very similiar to the alkanes. Alkanes have got the chemical formula CnH2n+2 and alcohols have got the chemical formula CnH2n+1OH. So the correct name is alkanoles. They are the most simple organic oxygen compounds and they have got one or more hydroxyl groups (OH groups). When we add to the name of an alkane (without the "e" at the end) the ending -ol then it is the name of an alcohol.

Alkanes Alkanoles
Methane (CH4) Methanol (CH3OH)
Ethane (C2H6) Ethanol (C2H5OH)
Propane (C3H8) Propanol (C3H7OH)
Butane (C4H10) Butanol (C4H9OH)
Pentane (C5H12) Pentanol (C5H11OH)

There are the first alkanes and alkanoles. Below there is the structural formula of ethanol.

Alcohols are very similiar to alkanes, but their boiling points are much higher. Ethanol (drinking alcohol) is liquid at room temperature, but ethane is a gas at room temperature.This is because of the OH-groups which are polar, because the difference between the electronegativity of the oxygen atom and the hydrogen atom is high. I have explained it in the atomic bonds, but here we have got molecules where one part is polar and the other part is nonpolar. In hydrocarbons the difference between the electronegativity of the carbon atom and the hydrogen atom is not very high. The electronegativity of the oxygen atom is higher than the electronegativity of the hydrogen atom and so the oxygen atom is charged a little bit negative and the hydrogen atom is charged a little bit positive. Between the negative charged oxygen atom of the OH group of one molecule and the positive charged hydrogen atom of the OH group of another molecule a hydrogen bond is formed which is not as strong as an atomic bond. So we have got a net and this is the reason for the high boiling points. These hydrogen bonds lead us to another problem. It is the solubility of alkanoles in water and gasoline. At the first three alkanoles, that means methanol, ethanol and propanol, the carbon chain is not as long as the nonpolar part could dominate, but when we have got many carbon atoms this part dominates. Then the polar part is not very important. The nonpolar part is hydrophob (water-shy) and cannot be dissolved in water. The first three alkanoles dissolve in water, because hydrogen bonds between the OH groups of the alcohol molecules and the water molecules exist. OH groups are hydrophil (water-loving). When we have got long alcohol molecules then the hydrophob part dominates and they cannot be dissolved in water, but in gasoline which is hydrophob, too. Between hydrophob parts there are the van der Waals-strengths. It is the same like with petroleum which does not dissolve in water, but swims on the surface. Hydrocarbons are generell hydrophob.

Methanol (Methyl alcohol): Methanol is made of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. It has got a strong flavour. It is a very dangerous poison, because it makes blind. 5 to 10 ml methanol damage the optic nervs and so blindness is the consequence. It damages also other organs like the liver, the kidneys and the heart. The symptoms of a methanol poisoning are belly cramps, headache, swindle features, nausea and weakness accumulations. Later there are visual disturbances, breath problems and unconsciousness. 10 to 100 ml are the deadly dose. It is inflammable and burns with a blue flame to carbon dioxide and water steam. When we oxidize methanol methane acid originates, which is knows as formic acid. This is the most simple carboxylic acid and has got the formula HCOOH. Methanol is used as solvents for lacquers and for formaldehyde.

Ethanol (Ethyl alcohol): Throught alcoholic fermentation processes ethanol and carbon dioxide originate. This ethanol has got only 18%. In many distillation processes ethanol with a concentration of 95% is made. After another distillation and a water-extracting substance we get ethanol with a concentration of 100%. Ethanol can be also made technical when ethane reacts with water. For that we need high temperatures, high pressure and phosphoric acid. Ethanol with 100% has got a very strong flavour. When we drink it as an alcoholic drink is goes into the circulation of the blood. In little doses is acts stimulating and in high doses it acts anaesthetizing and soothing. It also lowers the ability to react. Ethanol is like methanol inflammable, but it burns with a weak flame to carbon dioxide and water steam. When we oxidize ethanol ethane acid originates, which is known as acetic acid. She has got the formula H3CCOOH. This is the reason why wine tastes sour when it is not closed down. Ethane acid originates. Ethanol is used for alcoholic drinks, as a solvent for oils, resins, fast and aromas. White spirit and disinfectant are also made of ethanol.

Glycerin (Propantriol):

This is the structural formula of glycerin. Glycerin is a multiple alcohol. These are alcohols with more than one OH group. An example for that is 1,2,3-propantriol or better known as glycerin. The ending -triol shows us that it is a triple alcohol and the numbers tell us at what carbon atoms the OH groups are. The formula of propantriol is C3H5(OH)3. Glycerin is made of propene. Propene is an insatiated hydrocarbon and has got the formula C3H6. Because of the three hydroxyl groups glycerin dissolves in water very well. Glycerin tastes sweet, is high-viscosity and water-attractively. Not more than 50 ml of glycerin are not malicious. Higher doses lead to a intoxication condition and to headache and kidney pain. It is used for plastics and coloring substances. It can also be used as an antifreeze material, for ointments, for ink and as brake fluid. Nitroglcerin is amde of glycerin. The correct name of nitroglycerin is glycerin trinitrate. It has got the formula C3H5(NO3)3 and is an important explosive substance.

Phenol: Wenn we replace in benzene a hydrogen atom through a hydroxyl group (OH group) then it is phenol. It has got the chemical formula C6H5OH. It has got the same group as the alcohols, but theirs properties differ from each other. It has got a melting point of 43 degrees and a boiling point of 182 degrees. For phenol it is easier to give away the hydrogen atom of the hydroxyl group than for alcohols and so more sour than alcohols. It is possible to replace another or even two other hydrogen atoms by hydroxyl groups. Because of all the combinations there are three phenols with two hydroxyl groups and also three phenols with three hydroxyl groups. So all together there are seven phenols. They are all toxically.

The structural formula of phenol:

Carboxylic acids

The carboxylic acids are like the alcohols similiar to the alkanes. They have got the generell formula CnH2n+1COOH. This formula is not valid for the methane acid. The COOH group is characteristic for the carboxylic acids. Her name is carboxylic group. In the nomenclature we have to add the word acid to an alkane. Some carbonxylic acids have got also trivial names, because they are known since a long time.

Alkanes Carboxylic acids
Methane (CH4) Methane acid (HCOOH)
Ethane (C2H6) Ethane acid (H3CCOOH)
Propane (C3H8) Propane acid (C2H5COOH)
Butane (C4H10) Butane acid (C3H7COOH)

These are the first alkanes and carboxylic acids. Below there is the structural formula of ethane acid. We can see that in the carboxyl group there is a double bond. The melting and boiling points are higher of the carboxylic acids than the melting and boiling points of the alkanes because of the polarity in the carboxyl group. It is the same like with the alcohols. Short carboxylic acids dissolve well in water, but long carboxylic acids do not dissolve in water. The hydrogen atom of the carboxyl group is the one that dissociates. When we dissolve ethane acid in water then acid residue anion is H3CCOO-. Generell carboxylic acids (organic acids) are weaker than inorganic acids. The reason is the low degree of dissociation. The trivial names of the four first carboxylic acids are formic acid, acetic acid, propion acid and butter acid. Soap can be made of carboxylic acids. When ethane acid (H3CCOOH) reacts with caustic soda solution (NaOH) then sodium acetate (H3CCOONa) and water are the products. sodium acetate is a salt of the ethane acid and can be used as a soap. Often salts of the carboxylic acids with long chains are used as soaps. Except their sour properties they are not toxically.

Methane acid (Formic acid): It smells very stong and it is corrosive. The melting point is 8 degrees and the boiling point is 100 degrees. It burns with a blue flame. The name formic acid is because ants have got this acid. A bite of an ant is corrosive and painful. Methane acid is in stinging nettles, too. It is the most simple and strongest carboxylic acid. It dissolves not noble metals. Methane acid originates as a product when acetic acid is made. Methane acid can be also made of carbon monoxide (CO) and methanol (CH3OH) or of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and carbon monoxide (CO). Methane acid is used as a conservation for food and to made latex.

Ethane acid (Acetic acid): This acid smells also strong and is corrosive, but not as strong as methane acid. Ethane acid is called acetic acid, because a mixture of water and acetic acid is vinegar. 5% to 8% of vinegar are acetic acid. The melting point of acetic acid is 16 degrees and the boiling point is 118 degrees. Ethane acid originates when ethanol is oxidized (reacts with oxygen). Ethane acid often originates in wine and then the wine tastes sour. Technical ethane acid is made of butene (C4H8) and oxygen (O2) or of carbon monoxide (CO) and methanol (CH3OH). Acetic acid is used for vinegar, for preserving agents and for the textile industry.

Mulitple proton carboxylic acids, hydroxycarboxylic acids, aromatic carboxylic acids, amino acids: There are also multiple proton carboxylic acids like ethane diacide (oxalic acid). It has got the chemical formula (COOH)2. There are also hydroxycarboxylic acids. They have not got only a carboxylic group, but also a hydroxal group. The dihydroxylbutane diacid (tartaric acid) has got two carboxylic groups and two hydroxal groups. Citric acid and lactic acid are also hydroxycarboxylic acids. There are also acids which base on the benzene ring, aromatic acids. The easiest is benzoic acid. One of the hydrogen atoms from benzene is replaced by a carboxylic group. It has got the formula C6H5COOH. Replacing the next hydrogen atom through a hydroxyl group makes salicylic acid. The ester of ethane acid and the hydroxyl group of salicylic acid makes acetylsalicylic acid. It has got the trade name Aspirin. There are also amino acids. These acids can have carboxylic groups, hydroxyl groups and benzene rings, but they have got always amino groups (NH2 group). Only 20 amino acids exist. They are very important for genetics, because protein consist of amino acids. Glutamic acid is famous. Sodium glutamate and potassium glutamate (salts of the glutamic acid) are used in Chinese meals to strengthen the flavour.

The structural formula of citric acid:

The structural formula of acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin):

The structural formula of glutamic acid:


There is not an exact chemical definition for alkaloids like for alkanes. Alkaloids are in plants, they are cyclic molecules with a nitrogen atom in the ring, they are alkaline and they have got a strong effect on human beings. They act in the nervous system. Some of the strongest orgnic poisons are alkaloids and they are much stronger than the cyanide ion. Drugs are also alkaloids. Nicotine (C10H14N2) amkes addicted and it also belongs to the alkaloids. Morphine (C17H19NO3) is the basic structure for many other alkaloids. It can be made of poppy and opium. Morphine is used against pains. Heroin (Diacetylmorphine) has got the chemical formula C21H23NO5. It bases on morphine. Cocaine (C17H21NO4) is a famous drug and an alkaloid, but it does not bases on morphine. It is made from the coca bush. Another known alkaloid is strychnine (C21H22N2O2). Arrow poisons which are used for hunting base on strychnine and are often called curare.

The structural formula of nicotine:

Organic poisons

Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD): Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin has got the chemical formula C12H4Cl4O2. It is also called dioxin. It is a halogenated hydrocarbon and extremly toxically. It is more toxically than the cyanide ion (lethal dose: 1 mg/1 kg body weight). A few micrograms of TCDD are deadly. In 1976 in Seveso/Italy a little dioxin escaped, but nothing happened. There are only few other substances (alkaloids) which are as toxically as dioxin. Other substacnes with a similiar structure are also called dioxins. PVC burns are dangerous, because dioxins and other chlorohydrocarbons can originate.

The structural formula of tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD):

Tetrodotoxin: Tetrodotoxin has got the chemical formula C11H17N3O8. Tetrodotoxin is bestial, but it is also an alkaloid. This poison is well known, because it is in the pufferfish, which is eat in Japan and there it is called Fugu. The poison is in different organs of the pufferfish, but not in the muscle meat. Preparing this fish it is very important to esteem it and so the pufferfish should only be prepared by a special educated cook. Until today there are cases of a wrong preparation and people die. The reason of the death is paralysis of the breath. In the excitement of a nerve cell ions are exchanged. This process happens throught certain canals. Tetrodotoxin blockades the sodium ions canals and the exchange of ions cannot happen. It means that the nerve cell cannot be excited anymore and so the muscles do not get any information. This is the reason for the paralysis. The heart muscle also cannot work any longer and it can be another reason fo the death. Tetrodotoxin is a nerve poison. The pufferfish takes the tetrodotoxin from his booty, but he is immune from tetrodotoxin.

Chemical weapons: There are many types of chemical weapons, but here I will describe the modern nerve poisons. In Germany during the Second World War tabun (C5H11N2O2P), sarin (C4H10FO2P) and soman (C7H16FO2P) were made. After the Second World War the USA made VX (C11H26NO2PS). From tabun to VX the lathal dose increases. All four formulas are very similiar, because they are phosphorus-organic compunds. Sarin and soman has got also one fluorine atom and VX has got one sulfur atom. They all are liquid in room temperature. These poisons blockade a part of the nervous system. The consequence is a paralysis, so the person cannot breathe and the heart stands still. Many countries have got these poisons and they can be used for wars. VX can be used as a binary weapons. It can be hold as two substances which are mixed during an explosion.

The structural formula of sarin:


Nitro compounds: Nitro compounds are organic substances with a nitro group (NO2). Names like nitroglycerin or nitrocellulose are wrong, because they have not got a nitro group, but they are esters of the nitric acid. The production (nitration) of these ester of the nitric acid and of nitro compunds is the same. We need nitrating acid. Nitrating acid is a mixture of concentrated sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and concentrated nitric acid (HNO3). The relation can be 1:1 or another. Generally nitro compunds are explosive. Many organic compunds can be nitrated and so there are many nitro compunds. Nitroalkanes also exist. In room temperature the first nitroalkanes (nitromethane, nitroethane, nitropropane) are liquid. They do not explode very strong and so they are not really dangerous. They are used as special fuels. Much more explosive and dangerous nitro compunds are trinitrotoluene (C6H2CH3(NO2)3) (TNT), trinitrobenzene (C6H3(NO2)3) and trinitrophenol (C6H2OH(NO2)3) (picric acid). These substances are three times nitrated, but they can also be nitrated once or twice. Nitrobenzene (C6H5NO2), nitrotoluene (C6H4CH3NO2), dinitrobenzene (C6H4(NO2)2) and dinitrotoluene (C6H3CH3(NO2)2) also exist. I will mention trinitrotoluene again, because today it is the most important explosive.

The structural formula of nitromethane:

The structural formula of nitrobenzene:

Nitroglycerin: The real name of this substance is glycerin trinitrate, but often it is called nitroglycerin. The chemical formula of glycerin trinitrate is C3H5(NO3)3. The brackets before and after the nitrate group and the 3 mean that the nitrate group exist three times. Glycerin trinitrate is colorless and odorless. There are two forms of glycerin trinitrate. The melting point of one form is 2.8 degrees and the melting point of the other is 13.5 degrees. Glycerin trinitrate cannot be dissolved good in water. This explosive is very sensitive. A strong heating or a thrust can lead to an explosion of glycerin trinitrate. Dynamite is a mixture of nitroglycerin and kieselguhr. Big quantities of glycerin trinitrate should not be inhaled. It is made of glycerin. Today glycerin trinitrate is also used as an explosive. Little quantities of glycerin trinitrate are used for the expansion of the blood-vessels.

Trinitrotoluene (TNT): Trinitrotoluene has got the chemical formula C6H2CH3(NO2)3. The shortening of trinitrotoluene is TNT. Trinitrotoluene is yellow and has got a melting point of 82 degrees. Trinitrotoluene is not a sensitive explosive. It cannot explode because of thrusts, but about a certain temperature. Trinitrotoluene is made of toluene (C6H5CH3). The toluene is nitrated. It means that nitro groups (NO2) are added. Toluene is an aromatic hydrocarbon. That means that it is based on benzene. It is easy to see it, because in the fromula of toluene there are 6 carbon atoms and 5 hydrogen atoms. Instead of a sixth hydrogen atom there is a methyl group. But we can see the benzene ring. TNT is today it is the most important explosive, because the handle is very safe.

The structural formula of trinitrotoluene (TNT):

Author and Webmaster: Lukas Czarnecki

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Last Update: 15.12.2004