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Determination the compound is organic or inorganic

  1. Jan 18, 2014 #1
    Dear Fellow Members,
    If we have been given an unknown compound.We even don't know that it is organic or inorganic. Is there any chemical test to determine that the compound is organic or inorganic.. Please Help me out.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2014 #2


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    Gold Member

    You just have to combust the compound in pure oxygen and test the combustion products for presence of carbon dioxide and water. This does not work for some organic compounds, like carbon tetrachloride, though. (CCl4 does not contain hydrogen and is not combustible)
  4. Jan 18, 2014 #3
    There is no chemical test available for differentiating between organic & inorganic..???
  5. Jan 19, 2014 #4
    The short answer is that the line is somewhat arbitrary. These labels are useful in general to organize classes, journals, meetings etc.

    What would you call ferrous citrate, sodium carbonate?

    IMO, its not a very fun question to ask because in the real world you'd have some context about unknown compounds and would be more interested in, for example, if its pure, is it safe, is it volatile, does it have color.

    Either way, the long answer is that you likely cannot do one single test to conclusively say that a compound is one or the other. You would have to infer that from measuring its physical and chemical properties in a variety of ways to get to a narrow list of candidates which, if you are lucky, will have properties allowing differentiation amongst them.
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