When you think of sugar, the first thing that comes to mind is your regular table sugar — white, sweet and granulated. But there’s more to sugar than just being a sweetener, especially if you look into its chemistry. It is commonly available in nature in fruits and vegetables.
So, you might have wondered, “is sugar a compound or element?” Here’s a brief overview of the chemical composition of sugar.
What’s An Element?
An element is defined as a substance composed of atoms of identical atomic numbers.
Elements are considered the simplest of all substances, and they do not change and cannot be broken down further, despite being exposed to chemical reactions. Elements are always pure, represented by their atomic number and chemical symbol.
You can find 118 elements in the periodic table, which are arranged based on their atomic numbers. Elements are also divided into metals, non-metals, and metalloids.
Most of the elements on the periodic table are classified as metals. These elements can be found on the left half of the periodic table, including alkaline metals, alkaline earth metals, transition metals, and more.
Non-metals are placed opposite the metals on the right half of the periodic table. They are only a few non-metals, and the halogens and noble gasses fall under this umbrella.
Metalloids have properties that are a combination of metals and non-metals. They are also commonly referred to as semi-metals, and you can see them on the periodic table covered in a staircase-like arrangement and are generally colored yellow.
What’s A Compound?
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Compounds are substances that form when two (or more) elements are mixed chemically. Despite the combination, the ratio of the mass remains constant.
Additionally, in compounds, the individual properties of every element are reduced once they combine. This leads to new characteristics and properties getting created.
Chemical formulas represent compounds and indicate the number of atoms that make up the compound.
Compounds are also classified into two subtypes — molecular compounds and salt.
#1. Molecular Compounds
Also called covalent compounds, they are compounds in which elements share electrons through a covalent bond.
#2. Ionic Compounds
They are chemical compounds formed when an ionic bond holds together oppositely charged ions.
#3. Intermetallic Compounds
These are substances made from two or more elemental metals in definite proportions.
The Difference Between an Element and a Compound
As mentioned above, elements are pure chemical substances composed of the same kind of atom, while compounds are made of various elements held together by chemical bonds.
The two also differ in other aspects, some of which are described below.
Elements only contain one type of atom, with each atom having a matching atomic number. This means that the atoms each have the exact count of protons in their nucleus.
On the other hand, compounds are made up of varying elements in a fixed proportion and are arranged in a specific way through chemical bonds. They also only have a single molecule despite the different elements being chemically joined.
#2. Break Down Ability
Elements are already in their simplest form, so they cannot be broken down anymore.
The elements bound in a compound can be separated into simpler substances through different chemical reactions.
Elements are represented by symbols, as seen in a periodic table. For example, the element Aluminum is symbolized using Al, Carbon using C, Magnesium using Mg, and Potassium using K.
Compounds are represented by chemical formulas that include the symbols of the elements found in the compound and the number of atoms of that particular element.
For example, sodium chloride is represented by NaCI — which means the compound is made up of one atom of sodium (Na) and one atom of chlorine (Cl).
Another example is that of water represented by H2O — here, a molecule of water is made up of two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom.
There are 118 known elements classified further as metals, non-metals, and metalloids. Creating new compounds, on the other hand, is not restricted because one can combine various elements to produce new compounds.
Is Sugar A Compound Or Element?
Sugar, also known as sucrose, is considered a compound. It is a simple carbohydrate.
Sugar is produced by joining three elements — carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Its chemical formula is C12H22O11 — the compound has 12 carbon, 22 hydrogen, and 11 oxygen atoms.
Fructose, glucose, and lactose — other forms of sugar — are also compounds because they are also composed of the same elements. The only difference is the amount per element.
However, when sugar is turned into sugar water, it stops being a compound as it transitions into a solution, which can be broken down into its main components.