What Makes A Molecule Organic: A Detailed Look

Organic chemistry is complex, but understanding what makes a molecule organic is fundamental. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Organic molecules contain carbon-hydrogen bonds.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we’ll start by defining organic chemistry and organic molecules. We’ll then do a deep dive into the key properties of organic molecules, including the presence of carbon-hydrogen bonds, covalent bonding, and molecular geometry. Next, we’ll compare and contrast organic vs inorganic molecules. We’ll also touch on some important types of organic molecules like hydrocarbons, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids. We’ll wrap up with examples of organic molecules and their importance in biochemistry and pharmacology.

Defining Organic Chemistry and Organic Molecules

Organic Chemistry Overview

Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry that focuses on the study of compounds containing carbon atoms. Carbon is a unique element that forms the backbone of organic molecules and allows for a vast array of chemical structures and properties. Organic chemistry plays a crucial role in various fields, including medicine, agriculture, materials science, and environmental science.

Organic chemistry is concerned with the behavior and properties of organic compounds, including their structure, composition, reactions, and synthesis. It explores how carbon atoms bond with other elements, such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and halogens, to form stable and complex molecules. This branch of chemistry also investigates the different types of chemical bonds, such as covalent, ionic, and hydrogen bonds, that contribute to the stability and reactivity of organic compounds.

Understanding organic chemistry is essential for scientists and researchers in developing new drugs, designing sustainable materials, and studying biological processes. It provides a foundation for the exploration and manipulation of the vast chemical diversity found in nature and synthesized in the laboratory.

What are Organic Molecules?

Organic molecules are compounds that contain carbon atoms bonded to other elements, such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and halogens. These molecules are the building blocks of life and are found in all living organisms, including plants, animals, and microorganisms.

Carbon is unique in its ability to form stable covalent bonds with other carbon atoms, allowing for the formation of long chains and complex structures. This diversity of carbon-based compounds gives rise to the vast array of organic molecules that exist in nature.

Organic molecules can vary in size and complexity, ranging from simple hydrocarbons, such as methane (CH4), to large and intricate biomolecules, such as proteins, DNA, and carbohydrates. They can also exhibit diverse functional groups, such as alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, and amines, which contribute to their unique properties and reactivity.

Organic molecules have a wide range of applications in various fields. For example, pharmaceutical companies use organic molecules as the basis for developing new drugs to treat diseases. Organic molecules are also essential in the production of polymers, dyes, fragrances, and agricultural chemicals.

To learn more about organic chemistry and organic molecules, you can visit websites like American Chemical Society or Michigan State University.

Properties of Organic Molecules

Organic molecules are the building blocks of life. They are found in all living organisms and are essential for the functioning of biological systems. Understanding the properties of organic molecules is crucial for understanding their role in various biological processes. In this section, we will explore three key properties of organic molecules.

Contain Carbon-Hydrogen Bonds

One defining characteristic of organic molecules is that they contain carbon-hydrogen (C-H) bonds. Carbon is unique in its ability to form strong covalent bonds with other atoms, including hydrogen. This ability allows carbon to form the backbone of organic molecules, providing stability and versatility. The carbon-hydrogen bonds in organic molecules play a crucial role in their reactivity and the types of chemical reactions they can undergo.

Exhibit Covalent Bonding

Another important property of organic molecules is that they exhibit covalent bonding. Covalent bonds are formed when two atoms share one or more pairs of electrons. In organic molecules, carbon atoms usually form covalent bonds with other carbon atoms or with other elements, such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur. This bonding arrangement allows organic molecules to have a diverse range of structures and functions.

Have Defined Molecular Geometry

Organic molecules also have defined molecular geometry, which refers to the arrangement of atoms in space. The arrangement of atoms in a molecule determines its shape and influences its properties and reactivity. The molecular geometry of organic molecules can be influenced by various factors, including the type and number of atoms bonded to the central carbon atom. Understanding the molecular geometry of organic molecules is essential for predicting their behavior and interactions with other molecules.

For more information on the properties of organic molecules, you can visit www.chemguide.co.uk or www.khanacademy.org.

Organic vs Inorganic Molecules

When discussing molecules, one important distinction to make is between organic and inorganic molecules. While both types of molecules are essential to life and play significant roles in various chemical reactions, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

Organic Molecules

Organic molecules are primarily composed of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms, along with other elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus. Carbon is the key element that defines organic chemistry, as it has the unique ability to form stable bonds with other carbon atoms, resulting in a vast array of possible molecular structures.

Living organisms, such as plants and animals, are rich in organic molecules. Examples of organic molecules include carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. These molecules are the building blocks of life and are involved in essential functions like energy production, structural support, and genetic information transfer.

Inorganic Molecules

In contrast, inorganic molecules do not contain carbon-hydrogen bonds. Instead, they are typically composed of other elements, such as metals and nonmetals. Examples of inorganic molecules include water (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and salts like sodium chloride (NaCl).

Inorganic molecules play crucial roles in various chemical and physical processes. For instance, water is essential for life as it serves as a solvent, a medium for biochemical reactions, and a means of transportation within organisms. Inorganic molecules also play vital roles in maintaining pH balance, regulating electrolyte levels, and facilitating enzymatic reactions.

Comparison: Organic vs Inorganic Molecules

To summarize the differences between organic and inorganic molecules, here’s a comparison table:

Organic Molecules Inorganic Molecules
Contain carbon-hydrogen bonds Do not contain carbon-hydrogen bonds
Primarily found in living organisms Found in both living and non-living matter
Complex structures Simpler structures
Play key roles in life processes Play diverse roles in chemical and physical processes

Understanding the distinction between organic and inorganic molecules is fundamental to comprehending the complexity of biological and chemical systems. By recognizing the unique properties and functions of each type, scientists can better study and manipulate these molecules for a wide range of applications, from medicine to agriculture.

For more information on organic and inorganic molecules, you can visit reputable scientific websites such as chemguide.co.uk and sciencedirect.com.

Types of Organic Molecules


Hydrocarbons are organic molecules that consist of only carbon and hydrogen atoms. They are the simplest form of organic compounds and can be found in various forms, including alkanes, alkenes, and alkynes. Alkanes are saturated hydrocarbons, meaning they have single bonds between carbon atoms. Alkenes, on the other hand, have double bonds, and alkynes have triple bonds. These different types of hydrocarbons have unique properties and can be used in various applications such as fuel production, plastics manufacturing, and pharmaceutical synthesis.


Proteins are large, complex molecules that play a crucial role in the structure, function, and regulation of cells. They are composed of amino acids, which are linked together by peptide bonds. Proteins have a wide range of functions in the body, including acting as enzymes, transporters, antibodies, and structural components. They are involved in various biological processes, such as muscle contraction, immune response, and cell signaling. Examples of proteins include hemoglobin, insulin, and collagen.


Lipids are organic molecules that are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. They are essential for many biological processes and have various functions in the body. Lipids include fats, oils, phospholipids, and steroids. Fats and oils are energy storage molecules, phospholipids are the main components of cell membranes, and steroids play a role in hormone regulation. Lipids are an important source of energy and are involved in the absorption and transport of fat-soluble vitamins.


Carbohydrates are organic molecules that consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. They are one of the main sources of energy for living organisms. Carbohydrates can be classified into three main types: monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides are simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose. Disaccharides are formed by the linkage of two monosaccharides, such as sucrose and lactose. Polysaccharides are large, complex carbohydrates, such as starch and cellulose, which serve as energy storage molecules and structural components in plants and animals.

Nucleic Acids

Nucleic acids are complex organic molecules that are involved in the storage and transmission of genetic information. There are two types of nucleic acids: DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). DNA carries the genetic instructions for the development and functioning of all living organisms, while RNA plays a role in protein synthesis. Nucleic acids are made up of nucleotides, which consist of a sugar molecule, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. The sequence of nucleotides in a nucleic acid molecule determines the genetic code and is responsible for the diversity of life on Earth.

Examples and Importance of Organic Molecules

Organic molecules are the building blocks of life and play a crucial role in various biological processes. They are characterized by the presence of carbon atoms, which form strong covalent bonds with other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus. These molecules are found in living organisms, including plants, animals, and humans.

Examples of Organic Molecules

There are numerous examples of organic molecules, each with its own unique structure and function. One of the most well-known examples is carbohydrates, which include sugars, starches, and cellulose. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body and are essential for proper brain function. Another example is lipids, which include fats, oils, and waxes. Lipids are important for energy storage, insulation, and protection of organs.

Proteins are another vital group of organic molecules. They are made up of amino acids and are involved in various biological processes such as enzyme catalysis, cell signaling, and structural support. Nucleic acids, including DNA and RNA, are responsible for storing and transmitting genetic information. These molecules are essential for the functioning and reproduction of all living organisms.

Importance of Organic Molecules

Organic molecules are essential for life as we know it. They provide the necessary components for cellular structure, energy production, and genetic information. Without these molecules, life as we know it would not be possible. They are involved in processes such as metabolism, growth, and reproduction.

Understanding organic molecules is crucial in fields such as medicine, pharmacology, and biochemistry. By studying these molecules, scientists can develop new drugs, understand disease mechanisms, and design innovative therapies. For example, the discovery of antibiotics, which are organic molecules, revolutionized the field of medicine and saved countless lives.

Organic molecules also have important applications in industries such as agriculture, food production, and renewable energy. For instance, organic fertilizers, derived from natural sources, are used to enhance soil fertility and promote sustainable farming practices. Additionally, organic molecules are used in the production of biofuels, which offer a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.


In summary, organic molecules are defined by the presence of carbon-hydrogen bonds. They exhibit covalent bonding and have defined molecular geometries. Understanding the properties and types of organic molecules is key to biochemistry and pharmacology. With this foundation, you can continue exploring the intricate world of organic chemistry.

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