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Difference between Molecules and Compounds

Grade 6 Science Worksheets

In this article, you will learn:

  • What is a molecule?
  • What is a compound?
  • Difference between Molecule and Compound
  • FAQs
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Before we dive into the difference between molecules and compounds, let us first understand the two separately.

What is a molecule?

A molecule is a group of atoms that are bonded together. These atoms can be the same or different, and they can be arranged in different ways.

 

 

What is a compound?

A compound is a substance made up of two or more different elements (types of atoms) chemically combined in a fixed ratio. The elements in a compound are combined in such a way that they cannot be easily separated or broken down into their individual elements by physical means.

 

Examples of compounds include:

  • Water (H2O) which is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) which is made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms
  • Salt (NaCl) which is made up of one sodium atom and one chlorine atom
  • Sucrose (C12H22O11) which is made up of 12 Carbon atoms, 22 Hydrogen atoms and 11 Oxygen atoms
  • methane (CH4) which is made up of one Carbon atom and four Hydrogen atoms

It’s worth nothing that a molecule and a compound can be used interchangeably in many cases, but not always. A compound is always made of two or more different elements, while a molecule can be made of only one type of element (like Oxygen molecule, O2).

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Difference between Molecule and Compound

    A molecule is a group of atoms that are bonded together, while a compound is a substance made up of two or more different elements chemically combined in a fixed ratio.

    The main difference between a molecule and a compound is the elements they are made of:

    • A molecule can be made up of atoms of the same element, such as oxygen (O2) which is made up of two oxygen atoms.
    • A compound must be made up of atoms of two or more different elements, such as water (H2O) which is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.
    • In terms of visibility, molecules are often too small to be seen with the naked eye and can only be observed using tools such as microscopes, while compounds can sometimes be seen as they can exist in macroscopic forms.

    Examples of molecules include:

    • Oxygen (O2) which is made up of two oxygen atoms
    • Nitrogen (N2) which is made up of two nitrogen atoms
    • Chlorine (Cl2) which is made up of two chlorine atoms

    Examples of compounds include:

    • Water (H2O) which is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom
    • Carbon dioxide (CO2) which is made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms
    • Salt (NaCl) which is made up of one sodium atom and one chlorine atom
    • Sucrose (C12H22O11) which is made up of 12 Carbon atoms, 22 Hydrogen atoms and 11 Oxygen atoms
    • Methane (CH4) which is made up of one Carbon atom and four Hydrogen atoms

    In summary, all compounds are molecules, but not all molecules are compounds.

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    Molecules and Compounds FAQS

    Can a molecule be made up of atoms of only one element?

    Yes, a molecule can be made up of atoms of the same element, such as oxygen (O2) which is made up of two oxygen atoms.

    Is a compound always made up of atoms of different elements?

    Yes, a compound must be made up of atoms of two or more different elements, such as water (H2O) which is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

    Is a molecule always a compound?

    No, not all molecules are compounds. A molecule can be made up of atoms of the same element, while a compound must be made up of atoms of at least two different elements.

    Can a compound be broken down into its individual elements easily?

    No, the elements in a compound are chemically bonded together, and they cannot be easily separated or broken down into their individual elements by physical means.

    Can the ratio of atoms in a molecule be different than a compound?

    Yes, the ratio of atoms in a molecule can be different than a compound, for instance in water, the ratio of hydrogen to oxygen is 2:1, but in hydrogen peroxide H2O2 the ratio of hydrogen to oxygen is 2:2.

    Are all chemical compounds are molecules?

    Yes, all compounds are molecules, but not all molecules are compounds.

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