Science, Tech, Math › Science The Difference Between Organic and Inorganic Share Flipboard Email Print ThoughtCo/Hugo Lin Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated January 10, 2020 The word "organic" means something very different in chemistry than it does when you're talking about produce and food. Organic compounds and inorganic compounds form the basis of chemistry. The primary difference between organic vs. inorganic compounds is that organic compounds always contain carbon while most inorganic compounds do not contain carbon. Also, nearly all organic compounds contain carbon-hydrogen or C-H bonds. Note that containing carbon is not sufficient for a compound to be considered organic. Look for both carbon and hydrogen. Did You Know? Organic and inorganic chemistry are two of the main disciplines of chemistry. An organic chemist studies organic molecules and reactions, while an inorganic chemistry focuses on inorganic reactions. Examples of Organic Compounds or Molecules Molecules associated with living organisms are organic. These include nucleic acids, fats, sugars, proteins, enzymes, and hydrocarbon fuels. All organic molecules contain carbon, nearly all contain hydrogen, and many also contain oxygen. DNAtable sugar or sucrose, C12H22O11benzene, C6H6methane, CH4ethanol or grain alcohol, C2H6O Examples of Inorganic Compounds Inorganics include salts, metals, substances made from single elements and any other compounds that don't contain carbon bonded to hydrogen. Some inorganic molecules do, in fact, contain carbon. table salt or sodium chloride, NaClcarbon dioxide, CO2diamond (pure carbon)silversulfur Organic Compounds Without C-H Bonds Few organic compounds don't contain carbon-hydrogen bonds. Examples of these exceptions include carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)urea [CO(NH2)2] Organic Compounds and Life While most organic compounds encountered in chemistry are produced by living organisms, it's possible for the molecules to form through other processes. For example, when scientists talk about organic molecules discovered on Pluto, this doesn't mean there are aliens on the world. Solar radiation can provide energy to produce organic compounds from inorganic carbon compounds.