Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Organic is too Advanced ?

aga - 11-9-2015 at 11:57

For some reason i have held to the idea that Organic Chemistry is far too advanced for a novice like me, and that mastery of Inorganic Chemistry is a requirement for OC.

Having recently spoken to a first year university student, they told me that it is not so, as they are studying both IOC and OC at the same time.

To date i've saponified, esterificated and would like to have a go at PET to Terepthalic acid as described in CHROMIUM's method referenced in the "Chemistry of Terephthalic acid" thread.

Am i being too cautious and silly about OC or should i just make ethene from ethanol & sulphuric acid, dissolve the gas in water to make ethylene glycol and basically just Do It ?

szuko03 - 11-9-2015 at 12:21

Depends on how complicated you wanna go with it. At its most basic organic chemistry is like puzzle solving. It goes: to nitrate an alcohol one must use what and under what conditions. If you look at it superficially like that then it can be really easy.

I always held kind of the opposite idea because of how analytic inorganic can get it is the harder of the two if you were to compare it. But again as I am sure you know it depends on the level if you wanted to ascertain if a mixture is acidic based on whats in it, then inorganic can be easy then if you wanted the PKa based on molar ratios or something its complicated.

Its been a while since i took either at a university level but thats how i always viewed it. So I think your fine to just do it, especially since you have a decent stock of ethanol to start with ;)

Crowfjord - 11-9-2015 at 12:25

Definitely. Go for it. There are many experiments in organic chemistry that are suitable for the somewhat-beginner that you are. It helps to know stoichiometry, and the basics of chemical bonding of the various elements. If you get a basic organic chemistry book like those used for college second year O-chem, you can probably read and learn as you do simple experiments like those you mentioned. There are also steam distillations and liquid-liquid acd base extractions (eugenol from cloves is good), recrystallization, etc.

Also, hydrating ethene will just make ethanol again. Brominate it to 1,2-dibromoethane, then hydroxylate the bromines with base. Or something. :p. But yes, please, do stuff! Organic stuff!

[Edited on 11-9-2015 by Crowfjord]

Little_Ghost_again - 11-9-2015 at 12:28

The word ORGANIC is probably to blame for the fear it strikes in people, surely most subconsciously view anything 'ORGANIC' as living and therefore complex?
In a rational world OC should be easier as your dealing with a smaller subset of bonds etc, while inorganic chemistry deals with a much wider set of elements? Ok major over simplification on my part but I try and stick to KISS.

In short all chemistry is difficult to grasp at the start, but OC has the added baggage of a name which adds a dimension of 'it's alive'.

Surely ultimately it boils down to one simple fact........... Chemistry is Chemistry, like a Doctor is a Doctor. Some specialist and get good in a specific area while others are broader in the scope of knowledge but less detailed.

What I am saying is man has made soap for a good few years before he knew it was chemistry, so just sink a beer and do it.

[Edited on 11-9-2015 by Little_Ghost_again]

aga - 11-9-2015 at 12:55

I think i'd save a lot of broken glassware doing it sans biere.

Thanks for the insights peeps.

[Edited on 11-9-2015 by aga]

WGTR - 11-9-2015 at 12:56

Not all experiments are organic, but they are set up in elegantly simple ways. I've done several of these experiments, and the reaction-in-a-syringe method is quite simple and useful:

Your example with ethene to ethylene glycol is here:

Just do it man!

aga - 11-9-2015 at 13:09

Brilliant stuff WGTR ! Many thanks for those links.

[Edited on 11-9-2015 by aga]

Little_Ghost_again - 11-9-2015 at 13:23

Quote: Originally posted by aga  
Brilliant stuff WGTR ! Many thanks for those links.

[Edited on 11-9-2015 by aga]

Aga has been kidnapped or swapped!

The real aga as we know has vessels welded up and loaded with truck fulls of deck chairs etc, he uses a 10 ltr bottle for silver experiments!
This 'syringe' type scale dosnt fit!!! And as for saving glass WFT????
The real aga makes his own in a bucket with beer farts. I declare impostor, and or a bad influence somewhere

aga - 11-9-2015 at 13:27

We are monitoring you. Yesss.

(smacks lips having devoured a live guinea-pig, then rolls one slitted eye in a reptilian fashion)

battoussai114 - 11-9-2015 at 17:07

Here we had Inorganic Chemistry first, but it was a simple 6 months course to get some basic concepts of inorganic (and some quantum, I think the course was "General and Inorganic Chem") and then OC started. Some concepts like what orbitals are, electronegativity, pKa and stuff are required for understanding some reaction mechanisms and why some products are favored in certain conditions. But overall our teacher would gloss over this stuff when they're needed.

In case you're interested we studied the volume one of Solomons OC book. Now we're moving to the second book as the new semester starts. It's a pretty good book I guess, every once in a while I'll go for a "second opinion" in those free OC books hosted by universities or in Youtube videos, but its not frequent.

fluorescence - 12-9-2015 at 09:37

Well I am an Inorganic Chemist, I just love inorganic chemistry but the stuff I do is pretty much learning everything by heart. At least I wouldn't come up with the same solutions if I didn't look it up in literature. Organic Chemistry is easier in that case. My assisant in the lab once told me that at the end of chemistry study I will know about 30 Name Reactions in organic chemistry. I guess we know even more by now after 3 Semesters of organic chemistry. It seems hard but it depends on how well you are taught. I'd say from a certain basis which takes some time and needs really good understanding in why it is happening like that you can pretty much come up with a good solution to nearly every problem. And inorganic chemistry tends to use reaction mechanisms like OC for their stuff, too. It's not that diferent. If you spend some time you will hopefully understand where the "weakpoints" of a molecule is and that's where you do most of the chemistry, say Carbonyl-Groups. There is whole semester lecture on the chemistry of carbonyl groups and you can use that for so many other reactions if you just understand it. So OC is not that hard to learn, it takes some will, some ethusiasm for the topic but it will probably be worth it. And I think for a young home chemist there is much more OC Stuff than IC Stuff to do just because of all the possibilties.

What I just recomment is using different books or google for Scripts from Universities. OC Literature is really bad and there are so many errors in there that you'll have to compare in order to understand it. If you like to I can give you a short summary we made after our first Semester in Organic Chemistry ( 3rd Semester) which sums up all reactions we had, no explanation but it's a good summary of basic and advanced organic chemistry and the stuff you should know.

[Edited on 12-9-2015 by fluorescence]

aga - 12-9-2015 at 12:51

The funny thing is that the more i look at OC, the simpler it seems to be.

That's most likely because i don't understand it much, and Pictures are used a lot.

Not dead yet from IOC, so i guess OC is fair game.

Tally Ho !

First experiment is total alkylation of this goddam Lizard Alien that has posessed me for a week.

I'm pretty sure i can do OC Alcohol reactions with no bother.


Pathetic human. Ethanol is not new or amazing.
I pity you in your belief that you could affect me in any way.
You are as mere ants to us.
I like this mind. I will keep it.

[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga Lizard Alien]


Up yours Lizard ! Have you met Mr Absinthe yet ?

Eat that !

[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga]

Thish is nohing. Just blegh. I an u=in cuntolr. You doo a i sy.
[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga Lizard Alien]

Feeling a bit woosy eh ?
[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga]

Yu are inm contl. Stop. Stop nw.
[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga Lizard Alien]

No way scumbag. Polish Vodka time. Assimilate that !
[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga]

Rlease me. plse
[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga Lizard Alien]

You know where the exit route is. Bye.
[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga]

I'l be bak
[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga Lizard Alien]

Not by that route. Be Gone.

One more hard squeeze. Squeeeeeeeze .. and there he goes.

Another Lizard Alien disposed of.

[Edited on 12-9-2015 by aga]

Little_Ghost_again - 12-9-2015 at 14:40

The morale of this tale? GET a decent fume hood ;) and stay away from things that fume.

aga - 12-9-2015 at 14:48

LG2.59 you have no idea how much these bastard Lizard Aliens are interfering.

That last one absorbed nearly a week's worth of alcohol !

Can you imagine the Sobriety caused by an Invasion ?

Little_Ghost_again - 12-9-2015 at 15:20

Quote: Originally posted by aga  

That last one absorbed nearly a week's worth of alcohol !

I had no idea they could grow THAT BIG!! :o:o:D

Darkstar - 13-9-2015 at 02:59

So you're perfectly fine with trying to learn the total mindfuck that is quantum mechanics, but you're deathly afraid of a little organic chemistry? Because when it comes to levels of complexity, QM blows OC completely out of the water. Seriously, if you can make even a tiny bit of sense of quantum mechanics (which, from what I've seen in Blogfast's thread, you clearly can), you can make sense of damn near anything.

Honestly, dude, you've got to stop beating yourself up. If I had a dollar for every time I've seen you call yourself a drunken idiot or claim that you know nothing of value or importance, I'd have...well, I'd have a lot of dollars. You may be a drunk, but you're certainly not a dumb drunk. Dumb drunks don't hang around on science forums trying to better themselves by attempting to learn things like chemistry and physics.

So after looking back at your first few posts on SM, here's what I've gathered thus far:

- You're about 48 years old.
- You became interested in chemistry around the beginning of March 2014.
- Prior to last year, the last time you had studied chemistry was back when you were 16 years old. (I'm guessing in secondary school?)

So you've been into chemistry for all of, what, a year and a half now? And on top of that, you've been learning everything on your own? And on top of that, you're doing all of this in your late 40s? If that's the case, I'd say that you're doing damn fine. Do you also have kids? Because if you do, that's even more impressive. Either way, I think you're more or less right where you should be. Where I live, undergrads are usually required to take two semesters of General Chemistry before taking Organic Chemistry, with General Chemistry I & II being virtually all inorganic. So unless you take one of those courses during the summer, completing two semesters of General Chemistry normally takes about a year's time. And that's in an academic setting where the student is taught personally by a professional chemist in courses that are structured to ensure that the material is introduced in the most optimal order, not in the random, out-of-order way you tend to get when trying to learn it on your own.

Anyway, if you honestly feel that you're ready to make the jump to OC, I say do it and don't look back. On the other hand, if you feel that you may need a little more time, then just take a little more time. Really, there's no reason to rush--you'll get there when you get there. But don't think for one second that you need to master inorganic first, because that's completely untrue. Do you honestly think that all of these college kids are mastering inorganic chemistry after just two semesters?

smaerd - 13-9-2015 at 04:59

Quote: Originally posted by Darkstar  
... when it comes to levels of complexity, QM blows OC completely out of the water. Seriously, if you can make even a tiny bit of sense of quantum mechanics (which, from what I've seen in Blogfast's thread, you clearly can), you can make sense of damn near anything.

Honestly, dude, you've got to stop beating yourself up. ...

I will second both of those sentiments very strongly!

@Aga - Organic chemistry isn't hard. You will come to find a lot of people despise it because they never took the time to understand the underlying principles and took a 'memorization' approach to their coursework. It can be seemingly non-linear when you are learning the rules/patterns but it is not more difficult than anything else. I found it incredibly easy but I tend to think in pictures.

There is a sort of 'mathematics' to electron pushing, and some over-head with learning what structures are what and their basic reactivity. You can learn it without any trouble infact there are some really good 'lectures'/study sessions on youtube that I highly recommend -

Really all you need for entry level Organic Chemistry is an understanding of VSEPR, lewis dot structures, a general understanding of pKa(acid/base nature), and basic concepts of resonance structures(your understanding of resonance will increase with practice).

The experiments are pretty fun too. Pretty well suited to home experimentation as well as long as one is safe. If you go down this road, SciMad is a tremendous resource to have at your finger tips. There are some organic chemistry wizards and serious experimental cowboys (in my opinion among the best in the world) on this forum ready to answer any decently (even indecently) posed questions.

edit -
To date i've saponified, esterificated...

congratulations you've accomplished about ~3/5th of a typical organic chemistry lab course. Throw in a distillation(which you have done), some chromatography and TLC, a recrystallization(which you have done), a separatory funnel separation(which I bet you have done), a 2-3 step synthesis and you're there. Considering you built a melting point apparatus that surpasses the ones I used as an undergraduate from literally nothing I'd say you're in good shape! You'd be surprised by how much you are learning informally by hanging out here Aga ;).

Once you learn organic chemistry then you can look at biochemistry! I found organic chemistry to help me understand some of the applied quantum mechanics in physical chemistry as well.

[Edited on 13-9-2015 by smaerd]

aga - 13-9-2015 at 05:46

Today was 'have a go at OC' day.

For laughs i though i'd see if i could make Ethylene Glycol.

Not having many OC reagents apart from ethanol :) it went like this :-

Dehydration (!) of Ethanol by boiling it and passing over hot Al2O3 catalyst to give Ethene. Catch the gas in an inverted bottle of water in a bucket.

React that with chlorine gas (HCl + TCCA) with FeCl3 as catalyst.
(chlorination ?)

Separate the 1,2-dichloroethane (aka ethylene dichloride) from the ferric chloride.

Reflux the 1,2-dichloroethane with dilute Na2CO3 to get ethylene glycol.
(dunno what you'd call that reaction)

Is OC simply using a different sub-language to describe the reactions ?

I got the Ethene, but it would not react with the chlorine on this attempt.

aga - 13-9-2015 at 08:29

If at first you don't succeed ... try the method WGTR posted.

Unfortunately i have no 60ml syringes, so used a 2 litre milk bottle instead (very optimistic !).

Once again the anti-bump head came in handy. Shame it's never been used to stop bumping ...

This time i mixed the gasses by transferring them to a clean dry conical flask with an improvised septum using a hypodermic syringe and incredibly some liquid condensate has appeared on the glass. Very small quantity, but then very little gas was mixed.

rig.JPG - 184kB

end.JPG - 194kB suck.JPG - 196kB shep.JPG - 158kB

smaerd - 13-9-2015 at 16:49

Cool experiment there Aga

Yea, organic chemistry is a means of describing the structure and reactivity of carbon containing compounds.

subsecret - 13-9-2015 at 17:17

I think that organic is both easier and more rewarding for the amateur chemist; it's more about geometry that you DON'T have to calculate, eg crystal structures in inorganic chemistry which can be obnoxious to learn. In terms of the personal reward, there's the knowledge of course, but organic chemistry has pretty colors AND nice smells.

battoussai114 - 13-9-2015 at 18:44

Hey aga, from what I know (which is very little) these reactions involving gas phase cholrine really aren't particularly easy to perform. It has to do with how unfavorable the step in wich a partial polarity difference is induced in the chlorine molecule is. The reactions tends to happen faster (or maybe just actually happen) through the free radical pathway, but for this the gas would either need lots of heat to start the reaction, or be in liquid phase and have something like a peroxide as starter.
Now these are assumptions based on Bromination reactions I've studied yesterday, so maybe I'm completely wrong....

Cou - 13-9-2015 at 21:03

Quote: Originally posted by subsecret  
organic chemistry has pretty colors AND nice smells.

No, i'd say inorganic chemistry has the pretty colors but no smell,

while everything in organic chemistry is either a white powder or clear liquid, but makes up for that with the diversity of smells that might not even exist in everyday life. And for the ones that DO exist in everyday life, it's wonderful to know exactly what molecule is causing what you are currently smelling? Walk by a stinky dumpster that that smells like rancid cheese? Butanoic acid. The sickenly sweet smell of tar? Phenol

why no colors

Biblos - 17-10-2015 at 03:47

Cou, I read your post and it made me think a bit. It's true most organics are colorless. That made me wonder why. It all starts with "why?" doesn't it?.
After a bit of reading it's that all those C-C, C-N, C-O, N-O, C-H bonds don't absorb light in the viable spectrum. Pretty obvious once I read it but I had to go look it up. I have forgotten so much and there is so much more I never learned in the first place :)
Once, about 30 years ago I took an IR spectroscopy class and I can still remember that cool C=O peak... one of the only one's I could reliably read, at around 1600nm up in the infrared. Probably no point of posting this but in case anyone else wondered I thought I'd share. Isn't Chemistry cool?

hissingnoise - 17-10-2015 at 04:46

It should really be called "carbon chemistry" or better "carbochemistry", then inorganic chemistry could simply be "chemistry" without reference to organs, a hangover from the old "vital force" mumbojumbo . . . ?