Organic chemistry

"Vis vitalis"

In the early 19th century chemists believed that all "organic" substances found in living things came from the action of a mysterious "vital force".

The revolution

"Friedrich Woehler 1800 - 1882"

In 1828, Wöhler sent the following letter to his friend Berzelius:

Open the original letter !


Urea is a molecule that occurs only in living creatures. Woehler succeeded for the first time to prepare an organic substance from a single mineral substance. There is thus no "Vis vitalis." Chemistry is one. Subdivision in inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry is done only for practical reasons.


What characterizes the organic substances, however, is that they are quite unstable and carbonize easily:

Sugar was mixed with concentrated sulfuric acid. Click!

All organic compounds contain carbon! Currently millions of substances based on carbon, natural or synthetic, are known, which is why they have a special place in the building of chemistry

We define:

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of the carbon element