Until the early decades of the nineteenth century, many scientists believed that organic compounds were obtained from organisms such as plants and animals.
They believed this because, since ancient times, civilizations have taken dyes from plants to dye clothing or to prepare drinks from the fermentation of grapes.
In the eighteenth century, Carl Wihelm Sheel was able to isolate the tartaric acid from the grape, the citric acid from the lemon, the lactic acid from the milk, the glycerin from the fat and the urea from the urine.
For this reason, in 1777, Torbern Olof Bergam defined that Organic Chemistry was the chemistry of compounds in living organisms and that Inorganic Chemistry was the chemistry of minerals.
In this same period, Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier analyzed many organic compounds and verified the carbon element in all of them.
In 1807, the Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzeluis defended the theory of Vital forcewhere only living things are capable of producing organic compounds. This meant that it was impossible to obtain an organic substance if it were not for a living being. They could not be synthesized (artificially prepared).
However, this Life Force theory was overturned by the German chemist. Friedrich Wöhler. In 1828, Wöhler synthesized urea from a mineral compound according to the following reaction:
From ammonium cyanate, it was possible to synthesize urea, which previously could only be obtained through animal urine.
Other syntheses were also made, such as methanol and acetylene, also by Wöhler.
In 1845, Adolphe Wilhelm Hermann Kolbe first synthesized an organic compound from its chemical elements. He then synthesized acetic acid (vinegar).
From this time forward, chemists believed that any other organic compound could be synthesized. The idea that every organic compound came from living things has been abandoned.
Friedrich August Kekulé, in 1858, proposed a new concept for Organic Chemistry, used until today.
“Organic chemistry it's the part of chemistry that studies carbon-containing compounds. ”
If Organic Chemistry studies compounds with carbon, Inorganic Chemistry studies other compounds, in general ores.
Not every carbon-containing substance is part of Organic Chemistry. There are some exceptions, because although it contains carbon, it behaves like an inorganic substance. They are: C (graphite), C (diamond), CO, CO2, HCN, H2CO3, At2CO3.
Most organic compounds are formed by C, H, O and N. These atoms are called elements. organogens. Atoms other than carbon in an organic substance are called heteroatoms.