Study of Matter Compounds  Elmhurst College
Atoms Physical Properties Mixtures  Chemistry Department
Elements Chemical Properties    Virtual ChemBook


 Carbon, C

Carbon has the symbol C.

From the Latin word "carbo" meaning"charcoal"

Atomic Number = 6, Atomic Mass = 12.01, 6 protons, 6 electrons, 6 neutrons.

Known since ancient times although not recognized as an element until much later.

Most common as the element: graphite and diamonds, coal.

Most common compounds are hydrocarbons which include chains and rings of carbon atoms along with hydrogen atoms bonded. Carbon dioxide is the by product of combustion and metabolism.

Physical Properties:

Carbon is a soft, dull gray or black non-metal that you can scratch with a fingernail.
Th density of carbon as graphite is 2.267 g/mL, which means it will sink in water.

Chemical Properties:

Carbon, as graphite, burns to form gaseous carbon (IV) oxide (carbon dioxide). When the air or oxygen supply is restricted, incomplete combustion to carbon monoxide, CO, occurs.

In industry, water is blown through hot coke. The resulting gas is called water gas and is a mixture of hydrogen (50%), carbon monoxide (40%), carbon dioxide ( 5%), nitrogen and methane (5%). It is an important feed stock gas for the chemical industry and an important source of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen gas is also made from methane and water in a similar reaction.

Carbon in organic or hydrocarbon compounds is the foundation of modern society and biochemistry. Carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen are the most important elements.