No Walter White: 5 Chem Facts People Get Wrong

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Chemistry is a fascinating field that explains the properties and interactions of matter at the atomic and molecular levels. However, some basic chemistry facts often elude the general understanding of the public, leading to misconceptions and misunderstandings. In this article, we will explore five commonly misunderstood chemistry facts and clarify them to promote a better understanding of the subject.

A Shot of Chemistry Flask With Chemistry Reaction in It 
Photo by Ron Lach

Chemical Reactions Do Not Create or Destroy Matter

Contrary to popular belief, chemical reactions do not create or destroy matter. The law of conservation of mass states that the total mass of the substances involved in a chemical reaction remains constant before and after the reaction. While substances may undergo changes in form and structure, the total number of atoms and their mass remains unchanged.

All Acids Are Not Harmful

When people hear the term “acid,” they often associate it with corrosive and dangerous substances. While some acids, such as sulfuric acid, can indeed be hazardous, not all acids are harmful. Common examples of harmless acids include citric acid found in citrus fruits and acetic acid present in vinegar. In fact, many acidic substances are part of our daily lives and can be consumed safely in moderation.

Chemicals Are Not Inherently Dangerous

The term “chemical” often carries negative connotations, leading to the misconception that all chemicals are dangerous. However, everything around us, including natural substances and even our own bodies, is composed of chemicals. Chemicals are simply substances with defined properties and compositions. While some chemicals can indeed be hazardous, proper handling, storage, and understanding of their properties can mitigate any risks associated with their use.

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Photo by KOBU Agency

Water Is Not Pure H₂O

Water is commonly represented as H₂O, indicating two hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom. However, pure water rarely exists in nature due to its excellent solvent properties. It readily dissolves minerals and gases from its surroundings, leading to the presence of various impurities. These impurities, such as dissolved salts and gases, contribute to the taste and odor of water.

Organic Compounds Can Be Found in Inorganic Materials

Organic chemistry is often associated with compounds derived from living organisms, while inorganic chemistry deals with non-living matter. However, the line between organic and inorganic compounds is not always clear-cut. Some inorganic substances, such as carbonates, cyanides, and carbon monoxide, contain carbon atoms but are classified as inorganic due to their distinct chemical properties. Furthermore, organic compounds can be synthesized in laboratories without the involvement of living organisms.

By dispelling these common misunderstandings, we can foster a more accurate understanding of chemistry and appreciate its relevance in our daily lives. Remember, chemistry is a dynamic and diverse science that encompasses a broad spectrum of substances and reactions, and by improving our understanding, we can better appreciate its significance.

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