Chemical Definition

Chemistry Glossary Definition of Chemical

All matter consists of chemicals.
All matter consists of chemicals. Comstock, Getty Images

There are two definitions of the word "chemical" as the term is used in chemistry and common usage:

Chemical Definition (adjective)

As an adjective, the term "chemical" indicates a relationship to chemistry or to the interaction between substances. Used in a sentence:

"She studied chemical reactions."
"They determined the chemical composition of the soil."

Chemical Definition (noun)

Everything which has mass is a chemical.

Anything consisting of matter is a chemical. Any liquid, solid, gas. A chemical includes any pure substance; any mixture. Because this definition of a chemical is so broad, most people consider a pure substance (element or compound) to be a chemical, particularly if it is prepared in a laboratory.

Examples of Chemicals

Examples of things which are chemicals or consist of them include water, pencil, air, carpet, light bulb, copper, bubbles, baking soda, and salt. Of these examples, water, copper, baking soda, and salt are pure substances (elements or chemical compounds. A pencil, air, carpet, a light bulb, and bubbles consist of multiple chemicals.

Examples of things which are not chemicals include light, heat, and emotions.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Chemical Definition." ThoughtCo, Oct. 16, 2017, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, October 16). Chemical Definition. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Chemical Definition." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 22, 2018).