Chemistry Basics

I’ve recently felt it important to understand a bit more about different chemicals.

Mainly What are the basic chemicals that have the most flexibility as far as different formulas are concerned? The other night I looked up bleach, lye, ammonia, maybe alcohol? I’m not looking for an answer like “carbon” or “water” I’m looking for actual already made chemicals to be mixed. Just call me McGyver :rolleyes: Thanks in advance

I’m also looking for their orgins and most popular uses, TA

I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you asking which compounds are the most reactive (and thus would have the greatest “flexibility” in recombining with other chemicals), or are you asking which ones have the broadest names? “Alcohols” is pretty broad, being alkanes (methane, ethane, propane, butane, octane, etc.) with a hydroxyl (-OH) group stuck to it. Likewise, “bleach” is a pretty broad term used for many high pH compounds (but not synonamous with “base”). Ammonia is NH3 and lye is NaOH, both of which are specific chemicals rather than a group of similar chemicals.

If you are asking which compounds are the most reactive, you have to remember that they are going to be rare and hard to find. Reactive chemicals, well, react and turn into something else. Their instability is what makes them reactive. You’re not going to be able to find elemental sodium on a supermarket shelf.

What do you want to do? Heat? Dissolve? Cool? Poison? (can’t help you with that last one)

I’m not sure I can give you an answer unless you narrow the question down a bit.

I don’t think the question has anything to do with chemistry specifics as such. The OP seems to want to know which everyday and lab chemicals have very wide uses and properties that endear them very flexible for various purposes?

Sulfuric acid is the world’s most widely used and produced chemical by mass. It has many uses, to say the least.

I ditto Gyan9, thanks for the clarification.

Vinegar (weak acetic acid) has a multitude of uses.

Alcohol, water, baking soda, and vinegar.

Solvents, gas producers, acids, and a base if you dissolves the baking soda in the water.

OK then, the most flexible and widely used chemical would be Dihydrogen Monoxide, also known as hydric acid. The MSDS can be found here.

What’s the use of the Controlled Substances Act if it can’t stop the menace of dihydrogen monoxide and its grip on human societies? Bush and his priorities…

I have a fair dinkum MSDS for dihydrogen monoxide. It says in case of a spill clean up with plenty of water. And we all know what would happen then…

As to the OP, if you are after a range of different properties provided by some common chemicals, how about:
lye (NaOH) - corrosive high pH
HCl solution - corrosive low pH
baking soda - moderately basic
acetic acid - moderately acidic
petroleum spirits - flammable strong non-polar solvent
the aforementioned dihydrogen monoxide - strong polar solvent
rubbing alcohol - medium polarity solvent
table salt (NaCl) - ionic crystals
table sugar (sucrose) - organic crystals
potassium permanganate - solid oxidiser
hydrogen peroxide solution - liquid oxidiser

There you go - a bunch of common chemicals of various properties each having a bunch of different uses.

NOW we’re getting somewhere Antechinus… It’s not got to be ONE chemical, I just want some widely used chemicals to study them and how they were discovered. Chemicals that begot more complex chemicals or made some kind of progress in science or society… I never got to take chemistry in HS cuz I was taking Algebra at the same time and the class required that I already know Algebra… :confused: … anyway, I’ve always regretted not experimenting with different substances… short of vinegar and baking soda… so here I am, and in a studying mood too :smiley:

Ahhh … I see now.

Some of the most important chemicals and processes to make them. Search for:

Ammonia - Haber process
Nitric acid manufacture
Sulphuric acid - eg contact process
Ethyene - fractional distilation / steam cracking of natural gas
Sodium hydroxide (used in Bayer process)
Chlorine (made the same way that sodium hydroxide is made)
Petroleum (the whole petrochemical industry)

That should keep you busy. Those chemicals are just about themost important there are, and fundamental to the whole world economy.