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Chemistry Chemistry Tutorial Series

  1. Apr 25, 2016 #1
    Hi, I would like to learn chemistry, and I am self taught. I would like to learn chemistry to the point, where if i see a chemical equation, I then know exactly what I need to do to synthesize it, and was wondering if anyone could provide any resources for me to do that. Thank you very much everyone!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2016 #2
    That's a skill most PhD chemists don't have. At least, none of the chemists I know would claim to be able to look at any chemical equation and immediately know how to do every step of the synthesis. Most of them can, however, look at a chemical equation and know what books/references to look up the synthesis for that equation.

    I learned first year chemistry out of Brown&LeMay, and organic chemistry with McMurray's text. I don't know if they're the best texts, but they were fine for me and my classmates.

    I highly recommend that you get a copy of the Merck Index and browse through it often. It doesn't have to be the latest (15th) edition. I'm still happily using a 12th edition copy, and feel no need to upgrade. The 13th and 14th editions can be bought used for significantly less than what a new 15th ed. costs.

    The same goes for the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. The latest editions, 95th being the most current, are rather pricey. If you go back to the 89th and before, they start to be quite reasonably priced for what you get. The CRC handbook isn't as essential for what you're asking, but it's an excellent reference for analysis and other practical matters in chemistry.
  4. Apr 25, 2016 #3
    So, no one is really on that level where they can do that? What do they do if they see a chemical they want to synthesize, and their are no instructions for it? Do they just guess and check? also since you have a degree in it, is their any way you can explain to me how the courses work, and like exactly what people need to learn, in order to learn chemistry.
  5. Apr 25, 2016 #4


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    How much knowledge do you have in chemistry? One of the first calculations I learned while self studying chemistry was 1) how to do conversions with moles, grams, etc. and 2) how to balance chemical equations.

    Knowing how to synthesize every chemical equation would be like knowing the product of every reaction . . . that's not really plausible at all.
  6. Apr 25, 2016 #5
    I have taken Chem AP at my high school, and I would think that their would be a set of rules you would follow to figure out how to create a chemical, like doing single, and double replacements, until you get their, or electrochemistry, or some other sort of chemical reaction, that you can predict the outcome of. Is that wrong?
  7. Apr 26, 2016 #6
    I didn't say I have a degree in chemistry. I said I took first year chemistry and organic chemistry. That's as far as I went in chemistry in my own academic career.

    Just from that, though, I learned that just because you can write a chemical equation doesn't make that equation make sense in reality in that form. In particular, the same set of reactants can often react in several valid ways. Often, the product one wants is not the product most favored by the physics of all the possible reactions. And since many of the possible reactions do happen, one ends up with a stew of all the probable compounds made from the building blocks of the reactants, rather than a clean sample of the desired product. Often, to get a good yield, one has to do it a roundabout way through several other reactions to increase the favorability of the desired product being produced at the last step.

    Basically, from what I gathered when I was at university in the 90s, past some point of complexity synthetic chemistry is something of an art form. You should find and ask a synthetic chemist to see if this is the case.
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