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What is organic and inorganic matter and examples

In chemistry we fundamentally distinguish two types of matter: organic matter and inorganic matter. Each one has its characteristics and especially different functions in nature. One is characteristic of living beings and the other of non-living materials, although there is part of the similar composition. That is, some chemical elements are present in the two types of matter but in very different proportions.

In AgroCorrn we explain what organic and inorganic matter is, illustrated with examples .

  1. What is organic matter – definition
  2. Examples of organic matter
  3. What is inorganic matter
  4. Examples of inorganic matter

What is organic matter – definition

The organic material is that material which is composed of carbon atoms (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) mostly. This does not mean that organic matter cannot punctually include elements such as sulfur (S) or phosphorus (P), but they are certainly not its majority composition. Its bonds are almost always covalent and its structure is large and complex. It is synthesized by living beings .

Examples of organic matter

Within organic matter, we distinguish several main groups that depend on the chemical structure, which in turn determines its properties. These are some examples of organic matter according to these groups:

Carbohydrates or sugars

The carbohydrates are so named because they are composed exclusively of carbon chains in which hydrogen atoms are attached and oxygen (water components, or H2O). Monosaccharides or simple sugars can be divided into several groups depending on the number of carbons they have in their “skeleton”. Thus, we find triose, tetrosas, pentoses and hexoses. Furthermore, these chains can become rings; in fact, this is how they are usually found in a solution, that is, in any living being. The paradigmatic example of a cyclic hexose is glucose, sugar used to store energy. Some monosaccharides have the ability to join together forming long branching chains, which are called polysaccharides. Thus, glucose units (monosaccharide) are converted into glycogen chains (polysaccharide), which is stored in our liver and our muscles and serves as a reservoir of energy that is quick and easy to mobilize. Cellulose is also one of these polysaccharides.

Lipids or fats

Lipids are made up, at least in part of their structure, by long chains of carbon saturated with hydrogen. Thus, a triacylglyceride , one of the lipids that you have surely heard of, is made up of three of these chains terminated in an acid group, which binds to a glycerin unit (a short three-carbon molecule). Another of the most important lipids is cholesterol, an essential element for life. Lipids also function as an energy reservoir (more difficult to mobilize than glycogen). They also have an important structural role: they are the main component of all cell membranes.


The basic unit of protein is the amino acid , a molecule that in addition to carbon, hydrogen and oxygen also includes at least nitrogen. Although a few more rare amino acids have been discovered, a total of 20 different amino acids are often discussed, including lysine (Lys), proline (Pro), or aspartic acid (Asp). Amino acids can form long chains that fold back on themselves, acquiring helical, laminar or globular structures, which in turn can combine into complex superstructures. The basic role of proteins is structural and functional, that is, they form most of the supporting and enzymatic molecular structures.

Nucleic acids

Nucleic acids include deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and all variants of oxyribonucleic acid (RNA). In addition to nitrogen, they include phosphate. The main unit is the (deoxy) ribonucleotide, which like proteins and sugars come together to form long chains. In nucleic acids, the chains generally adopt a helical or globular structure. They are of vital importance, since they preserve and recover all the information contained in the cell .

Other examples of organic matter

Here we find vitamins, hormones, small hydrocarbons such as methane (CH4) and, in general, a wide variety of molecules that, although they may not be particularly abundant, can play essential roles for life .

As we have seen, these are essential elements for life to exist, but if you want to learn more about it, we recommend reading this other AgroCorrn article about the Characteristics of planet Earth that make life possible .

What is inorganic matter

The inorganic matter is that unformed matter primarily of C, H and O (although these elements can lead in its composition), and links are mainly of the ionic or metallic types. Although these elements are also in living beings, they do so in small proportions and, mainly, they are found “outside of them”, in inert materials.

Examples of inorganic matter

Inorganic matter is classified fundamentally according to the number of elements that make up the molecule . Thus, as examples of inorganic matter we find:

Noble gases and metals

Noble gases are in atomic form, since they do not need to combine with other atoms to remain stable. On the other hand, metals can be grouped into networks that include many atoms, but can all be of the same element. Examples of noble gases are Helium (He) or Argon (Ar). We also find metals such as iron (Fe) or aluminum (Al).

Binary compounds

They are made up of two atoms of different elements. We find the binary salts, metal oxides and metal hydrides. For example, sulfur oxide (SO3) is a very polluting element.

Ternary compounds

They are combinations of three elements, such as hydroxides (such as potash or potassium hydroxide, KOH) or strong acids, for example sulfuric acid (H2SO4), both being important corrosive agents.

To expand more information on this topic, we recommend reading this other AgroCorrn article in which there are more simple examples of what is the difference between living beings and inert beings , that is, those composed of organic matter and composite materials. by inorganic matter.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is organic and inorganic matter and examples , we recommend that you enter our category of Other environment .

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