Chemistry is all around us, all the time. Whether it’s natural or artificial, our days are filled with chemistry formulas in action.

Everyday things like switching on a light bulb, refuelling a car, or even frying an egg are all in fact, chemistry questions just waiting to be answered!

It is really no exaggeration to say that chemistry plays a minute-by-minute role in our daily lives. Did you know that as humans we are made up of atoms and molecules – and that is really chemistry 101 – everything is made up of something. When it comes to the way we eat, breathe, see, and move, chemistry is always the answer.

So if you are sitting in your Introduction to Chemistry course and feeling challenged, be encouraged that what you are doing is not pointless, this is a subject that is fundamental to the way the world works, and perhaps when you see it this way you will be inspired to carry on.

To prove this, we have taken the most interesting things to answer your chemistry questions and show you that while an introduction to chemistry, with its functional groups, atomic structure, acids, and bases, might not be that fun, in the real world it is extremely interesting because it influences everything and everything is influenced by it.

This article intends to answer some of your most basic chemistry questions, including the definition concerning chemistry formulas, or what to expect in an introduction to chemistry class.

Chemistry is ...

Like anything in life, there is always a good place to start, and when it comes to Chemistry 101 that is a periodic table of elements. This is the most basic and important introduction to chemistry.

The Periodic Table

There’s no doubt that when it comes to a periodic table, you would have seen one in every chemistry class or laboratory. Have you ever wondered what it is actually for?

You may have already heard of elements! These are the pure substances, some of which, like oxygen, carbon, potassium, and nitrogen you will come across in your introduction to chemistry class. What is important to remember is that these substances cannot be reduced to anything else – and these are the symbols you will see on the periodic table.

The table is actually arranged by the order reactivity of the elements. In other words, from the least reactive to the most and in order of their atomic numbers. By the way, learning this table until you know it like a sort of alphabet will take you far in your chemistry lessons.

Chemical Reactions

When it really comes down to it, chemistry 101 is all about chemical reactions. In our day-to-day lives, these things happen all the time – it could be when we burn toast or light a fire or breathe. If you can remember this, you will find that chemistry is really more fun and relevant than what we first think.

Everything around is made up of relationships between one molecule or atom and another forming chemistry formulas. By definition, chemistry formulas represent any chemical substance by using the symbol of elements within it.

It’s important to remember that these molecular relationships are not stable as they change when heat or another particular substance is brought into the equation. When these chemical formulas change or are rearranged – this is what is referred to as a chemical reaction.

colourful liquids in beakers on table
We're exposed to chemical reactions in our daily lives. | Source: Unsplash

Acids and Bases

If your chemistry questions include needing to understand acids and bases, you should know that we all use acids on most days! Things like lemons and vinegar are acidic, while bases may be less familiar. When you use soap or bleach for cleaning you are in contact with a base, also known as alkali.

In theory, chemical reactions are when acids release protons to the reactants, while bases steal them.

Believe it or not, this straightforward reaction is the reason for the difference.

Key Chemistry Terms

As a chemistry student, you will soon found out that chemistry is full of analytical, theoretical terms, and chemistry formulas that simply need to be learned. Of course, this will probably be the least exciting part of your introduction to chemistry, but it just has to be done.

For instance, do you know what hydrocarbon or polymer is? Do you know the difference between an ionic bond and a covalent bond? Any idea what a chemical product or catalyst might be? What about distillation, oxidation or titration.

To get ahead with your chemistry questions, you could search for a glossary of chemistry 101 terminologies, or you could also sign up with a private tutor to give you a head start on chemistry formulas, terminology, and other basics. Check out the Superprof website which has chemistry tutors from all over South Africa for every level of chemistry tuition.

Things You’ll Need in Your Chemistry Kit

Apart from learning some theory, chemistry is essentially a practical subject where very little can be achieved without the right equipment!

You have probably seen chemistry labs that are full of equipment that you have never seen before. These are all things that are needed to conduct chemistry experiments safely and effectively.

The most basic piece of chemistry equipment is the Bunsen Burner, a gas pipe that produces a hot, clear, clean flame. Because heat often induces the physical or chemical change you will be analysing, the Bunsen Burner is an essential tool.

scientist in lab wearing protective gloves
Safety and protective gear, like gloves, are key in a chemistry lab. | Source: Unsplash

In addition, you will need test tubes, pipettes, burettes, and a flask. It is also recommended to use goggles and gloves to protect yourself. In understanding the composition of the substances with which you will be working, you’ll also need a thermometer, litmus paper, and a molecular model. You can also search the internet for a comprehensive list of chemistry equipment.

Famous Chemists Worth Noting

Perhaps you have heard the names Nobel, Mendeleev, Dalton, or Berzelius! All of these people have something important in common, they have all made enormous and famous contributions to the world of chemistry.

Imagine being the discoverer of chemical elements?

These and others are the legends to thank for the theories and chemistry formulas that have landed up in our textbooks today. In fact, since the 18th century, people have been writing, thinking, and experimenting with what happens when gas is heated or finding out what chemical bonds really are. Some of the most significant characters in our history are those who have studied chemistry.

Chemistry is Made Up of Famous Discoveries

As mentioned above, everything boils down to chemistry. Whether it’s the medicine we make or the way food is very often manufactured, everything we touch is a result of a chemical process.

You could even take the screen you are using to read this on as an example. Even that has chemistry questions worth answering. What is it made up of? How are the words shown? How is it that it is so small compared to the sizes we knew ten to fifteen years ago?

All of these questions can be answered with chemical compounds and years of dedicated experimentation. One man responsible for this particular technology is George Gray. His chemical research has not only changed how we read information but also how to talk to family and friends, make purchases, and work. All these things would not be here today if it were not for Gray’s screen, which today, allows us to carry personal computers in our pockets and handbags!

There’s no doubt, chemistry is one of the unsung heroes of human existence. Whether it’s a radioactive chemistry formula that treats cancer or the bumper of your motor car, it’s responsible for everything.

Mind-Blowing Chemistry Facts

female scientist running experiments in lab
Dedicated experimentation and analyses have led to the discoveries that impact us to this day. | Source: Unsplash

Finally, there are some amazing chemistry facts worth mentioning. By now, you hopefully realise that chemistry is so much more than a few facts given to you by a teacher in a classroom or the equations you have to do for homework.

For instance, did you know that fireworks and even Coca Cola are chemistry inventions with their own amazing stories? Here’s another one, did you know that as humans we each have enough carbon in our bodies to make about ten thousand pencils.

From wasps to bees, water, glass, and motion, chemistry is surprising and it is everywhere!

It’s also true that it is a complex subject that often requires extra tuition, if you are struggling with chemistry or want to get ahead of your high school chemistry syllabus, consider a private tutor as this could make all the difference. Superprof tutors are all over South Africa, but even if you cannot find one near to you, you could sign up for online chemistry tuition. The added bonus with using a Superprof tutor is that in many cases the first lesson is for free, so you can decide whether you have found the right person or not.

All the best with your introduction to chemistry!

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.