10 Carbon Facts

Carbon - The Chemical Basis for Life

Diamond is crystalline carbon. Tetra Images / Getty Images

One of the most important elements for all living things is carbon. Here are 10 interesting carbon facts for you:

  1. Carbon is the basis for organic chemistry, as it occurs in all living organisms.


  2. Carbon is a nonmetal that can bond with itself and many other chemical elements, forming nearly ten million compounds.


  3. Elemental carbon can take the form of one of the hardest substances (diamond) or one of the softest (graphite).


  1. Carbon is made in the interiors of stars, though it was not produced in the Big Bang.


  2. Carbon compounds have limitless uses. In its elemental form, diamond is a gemstone and used for drilling/cutting; graphite is used in pencils, as a lubricant, and to protect against rust; while charcoal is used to remove toxins, tastes, and odors. The isotope Carbon-14 is used in radiocarbon dating.


  3. Carbon has the highest melting/sublimation point of the elements. The melting point of diamond is ~3550°C, with the sublimation point of carbon around 3800°C.


  4. Pure carbon exists free in nature and has been known since prehistoric time.


  5. The origin of the name 'carbon' comes from the Latin word carbo, for charcoal. The German and French words for charoal are similar.


  6. Pure carbon is considered non-toxic, although inhalation of fine particles, such as soot, can damage lung tissue.


  7. Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe (hydrogen, helium, and oxygen are found in higher amounts, by mass).


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    Your Citation
    Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "10 Carbon Facts." ThoughtCo, Apr. 10, 2017, thoughtco.com/carbon-element-facts-606515. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, April 10). 10 Carbon Facts. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/carbon-element-facts-606515 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "10 Carbon Facts." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/carbon-element-facts-606515 (accessed May 24, 2018).