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Chemicals can be classified according to extremely varied criteria such as: their molecular structure, their behaviour, the hazards they present... giving rise to complex classifications. Nevertheless, five broad families can be distinguished based on the chemicals’ nature:

  • raw ore, which come from rocks extracted from
    mines or quarries,
  • mineral or organic salts, which, in an aqueous
    , become ionic compounds composed
    of cations• (positively charged) and anions•
    (negatively charged),
  • petrochemical products•, which may be components
    of oil or synthetic products of these components,
  • corrosive substances, which are mainly acids•
    and bases,
  • gases, which may be liquid at very low temperatures
    or under high pressure.
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IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry)
nomenclature: find out about the rules in force on the nomenclature of organic compounds at:

Main families of chemicals
Main families of chemicals
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Industry Canada, a source of information on the chemical
industry in Canada and abroad:

Organic or inorganic?

Organic chemistry by definition covers all that relates to the living and concerns the description and study of a vast
range of mainly carbon-based molecules. Its scope has slightly expanded over recent years to include the field of chemistry that aims to synthesize molecules composed exclusively of carbon, different to those found in nature.

In addition to these naturally occurring or synthetic carbon molecules, organic chemistry includes molecules containing
elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur•, and halogens.

The purpose of inorganic chemistry, formerly known as mineral chemistry, is to study molecular substances that are
not of biological origin. It particularly focuses on minerals (e.g. quartz, aluminosilicates, cements), mineral acids (e.g. hydrochloric acid), metals (e.g. iron, aluminum•, mercury) and alloys.