Chemical Names of Common Substances

Alternate Chemical Names of Familiar Materials

Close-up of rock salt

DEA/ARCHIVIO B/De Agostini Picture Library / Getty Images

Chemical or scientific names are used to give an accurate description of a substance's composition. Even so, you rarely ask someone to pass the sodium chloride at the dinner table. It's important to remember that common names are inaccurate and vary from one place and time to another. Therefore, don't assume that you know the chemical composition of a substance based on its common name. This is a list of archaic chemical names and common names for chemicals, with their modern or IUPAC equivalent name.

You also may be interested in the list of common chemicals and where to find them.

Common Chemical Names

Common NameChemical Name
acetone dimethyl ketone; 2-propanone (usually known as acetone) 
acid potassium sulfate potassium bisulfate 
acid of sugar oxalic acid 
ackey nitric acid 
alcali volatil ammonium hydroxide 
alcohol, grain ethyl alcohol 
alcohol sulfuris carbon disulfide 
alcohol, wood methyl alcohol 
alum aluminum potassium sulfate 
alumina aluminum oxide 
antichlor sodium thiosulfate 
antifreeze ethylene glycol 
antimony black antimony trisulfide 
antimony bloom antimony trioxide 
antimony glance antimony trisulfide 
antimony red (vermillion) antimony oxysulfide 
aqua ammonia aqueous solution of ammonium hydroxide 
aqua fortis nitric acid 
aqua regia nitrohydrochloric acid 
aromatic spirit of ammonia ammonia in alcohol 
arsenic glass arsenic trioxide 
azurite mineral form of basic copper carbonate 
asbestos magnesium silicate 
aspirin acetylsalicylic acid 
baking soda sodium bicarbonate 
banana oil (artificial) isoamyl acetate 
barium white barium sulfate 
benzol benzene 
bicarbonate of soda sodium hydrogen carbonate or sodium bicarbonate 
bichloride of mercury mercuric chloride 
bichrome potassium dichromate 
bitter salt magnesium sulfate 
black ash crude form of sodium carbonate 
black copper oxide cupric oxide 
black lead graphite (carbon) 
blanc-fixe barium sulfate 
bleaching powder chlorinated lime; calcium hypochlorite 
blue copperas copper sulfate (crystals) 
blue lead lead sulfate 
blue salts nickel sulfate 
blue stone copper sulfate (crystals) 
blue vitriol copper sulfate 
bluestone copper sulfate 
bone ash crude calcium phosphate 
bone black crude animal charcoal 
boracic acid boric acid 
borax sodium borate; sodium tetraborate 
bremen blue basic copper carbonate 
brimstone sulfur 
burnt alum anhydrous potassium aluminum sulfate 
burnt lime calcium oxide 
burnt ochre ferric oxide 
burnt ore ferric oxide 
brine aqueous sodium chloride solution 
butter of antimony antimony trichloride 
butter of tin anhydrous stannic chloride 
butter of zinc zinc chloride 
calomel mercury chloride; mercurous chloride 
carbolic acid phenol 
carbonic acid gas carbon dioxide 
caustic lime calcium hydroxide 
caustic potash potassium hydroxide 
caustic soda sodium hydroxide 
chalk calcium carbonate 
Chile saltpeter sodium nitrate 
Chile nitre sodium nitrate 
Chinese red basic lead chromate 
Chinese white zinc oxide 
chloride of soda sodium hypochlorite 
chloride of lime calcium hypochlorite 
chrome alum chromic potassium sulfate 
chrome green chromium oxide 
chrome yellow lead (VI) chromate 
chromic acid chromium trioxide 
copperas ferrous sulfate 
corrosive sublimate mercury (II) chloride 
corundum (ruby, sapphire) chiefly aluminum oxide 
cream of tartar potassium bitartrate 
crocus powder ferric oxide 
crystal carbonate sodium carbonate 
dechlor sodium thiophosphate 
diamond carbon crystal 
emery powder impure aluminum oxide 
epsom salts magnesium sulfate 
ethanol ethyl alcohol 
farina starch 
ferro prussiate potassium ferricyanide 
ferrum iron 
flores martis anhydride iron (III) chloride 
fluorspar natural calcium fluoride 
fixed white barium sulfate 
flowers of sulfur sulfur 
'flowers of' any metal oxide of the metal 
formalin aqueous formaldehyde solution 
French chalk natural magnesium silicate 
French vergidris basic copper acetate 
galena natural lead sulfide 
Glauber's salt sodium sulfate 
green verditer basic copper carbonate 
green vitriol ferrous sulfate crystals 
gypsum natural calcium sulfate 
hard oil boiled linseed oil 
heavy spar barium sulfate 
hydrocyanic acid hydrogen cynanide 
hypo (photography) sodium thiosulfate solution 
Indian red ferric oxide 
Isinglass agar-agar gelatin 
jeweler's rouge ferric oxide 
killed spirits zinc chloride 
lampblack crude form of carbon; charcoal 
laughing gas nitrous oxide 
lead peroxide lead dioxide 
lead protoxide lead oxide 
lime calcium oxide 
lime, slaked calcium hydroxide 
limewater aqueous solution of calcium hydroxide 
liquor ammonia ammonium hydroxide solution 
litharge lead monoxide 
lunar caustic silver nitrate 
liver of sulfur sufurated potash 
lye or soda lye sodium hydroxide 
magnesia magnesium oxide 
manganese black manganese dioxide 
marble mainly calcium carbonate 
mercury oxide, black mercurous oxide 
methanol methyl alcohol 
methylated spirits methyl alcohol 
milk of lime calcium hydroxide 
milk of magnesium magnesium hydroxide 
milk of sulfur precipitated sulfur 
"muriate" of a metal chloride of the metal 
muriatic acid hydrochloric acid 
natron sodium carbonate 
nitre potassium nitrate 
nordhausen acid fuming sulfuric acid 
oil of mars deliquescent anhydrous iron (III) chloride 
oil of vitriol sulfuric acid 
oil of wintergreen (artificial) methyl salicylate 
orthophosphoric acid phosphoric acid 
Paris blue ferric ferrocyanide 
Paris green copper acetoarsenite 
Paris white powdered calcium carbonate 
pear oil (artificial) isoamyl acetate 
pearl ash potassium carbonate 
permanent white barium sulfate 
plaster of Paris calcium sulfate 
plumbago graphite 
potash potassium carbonate 
potassa potassium hydroxide 
precipitated chalk calcium carbonate 
Prussic acid hydrogen cyanide 
pyro tetrasodium pyrophosphate 
quicklime calcium oxide 
quicksilver mercury 
red lead lead tetraoxide 
red liquor aluminum acetate solution 
red prussiate of potash potassium ferrocyanide 
red prussiate of soda sodium ferrocyanide 
Rochelle salt potassium sodium tartrate 
rock salt sodium chloride 
rouge, jeweler's ferric oxide 
rubbing alcohol isopropyl alcohol 
sal ammoniac ammonium chloride 
sal soda sodium carbonate 
salt, table sodium chloride 
salt of lemon potassium binoxalate 
salt of tartar potassium carbonate 
saltpeter potassium nitrate 
silica silicon dioxide 
slaked lime calcium hydroxide 
soda ash sodium carbonate 
soda nitre sodium nitrate 
soda lye sodium hydroxide 
soluble glass sodium silicate 
sour water dilute sulfuric acid 
spirit of hartshorn ammonium hydroxide solution 
spirit of salt hydrochloric acid 
spirit of wine ethyl alcohol 
spirits of nitrous ether ethyl nitrate 
sugar, table sucrose 
sugar of lead lead acetate 
sulfuric ether ethyl ether 
talc or talcum magnesium silicate 
tin crystals stannous chloride 
trona natural sodium carbonate 
unslaked lime calcium oxide 
Venetian red ferric oxide 
verdigris basic copper acetate 
Vienna lime calcium carbonate 
vinegar impure dilute acetic acid 
vitamin C ascorbic acid 
vitriol sulfuric acid 
washing soda sodium carbonate 
water glass sodium silicate 
white caustic sodium hydroxide 
white lead basic lead carbonate 
white vitriol zinc sulfate crystals 
yellow prussiate of potash potassium ferrocyanide 
yellow prussiate of soda sodium ferrocyanide 
zinc vitriol zinc sulfate 
zinc white zinc oxide