Elements and Compounds Simply Explained



Pondering man next to a question mark in an article that talks about chemical elements and compounds



What's the Difference Between Elements and Compounds?

A chemical element is made up of one single type of atom so atoms create chemical elements.  Oxygen is a chemical element because it only contains oxygen atoms. 

When more than one chemical element is present it becomes known as a chemical compound.  A compound is made up of two or more chemical elements that have been combined.  An element is the simplest known substance.  An example of a chemical compound is water because it's made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.  When two or more atoms bond together they form a larger particle known as a molecule but it can take many thousands of atoms to form a single molecule.  Molecules can be different shapes and sizes and when many are stacked together in an orderly repeating arrangement they form a crystal.

Most minerals are chemical compounds which means they're made up of two or more chemical elements.  Minerals made up of a single chemical element are known as native elements and include copper, carbon, gold, titanium and silver. Other chemical elements include manganese, oxygen, iron, hydrogen, beryllium and sodium. Although an element may be a liquid, solid or gas, bromine and mercury are the only two liquids.

Quartz is a chemical compound because it's made up of silicon and oxygen.  The mineral halite better known as salt is also a chemical compound because it's made up of one atom of the element sodium and one of chlorine.