from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chemicals are chemical substances that are manufactured or used industrially or in a laboratory . These can be pure substances or mixtures of substances . However, whether something is called a chemical depends heavily on the context .

Examples and categories

Reaction of the chemicals ammonia and hydrochloric acid when mixed ( acid-base reaction of two chemicals)

The term chemical (synonym: reagent ) is very vague, by no means precisely defined and can therefore have different meanings depending on the context:

Not to chemicals include things that are not involved in chemical reactions (eg. As test tubes ) or its composition is complex (eg. As an apple ). Physical properties (e.g. pressure of a gas ) and geometric properties (e.g. dimensions of a solid ) of chemicals are usually not relevant.

In the narrower sense, only substances are considered chemicals that are also manufactured or used in the chemical laboratory or in the chemical industry.


There are different classifications for chemicals. They can initially be roughly divided into inorganic and organic , furthermore into petrochemicals , polymers , fine and specialty chemicals , pharmaceuticals , agrochemicals as well as soaps, detergents and the like. Personal care products ( detergents ). There are also categories as hazardous substances, for example . Some of these categories are historically based, such as the distinction between organic and inorganic , others are based on laws and regulations, such as the Hazardous Substances Ordinance . A fundamental distinction must be made between scientific classifications and those under chemicals law . There are also popular names (common names) for chemicals.

Technical and fine chemicals

When trading in chemicals, a distinction is made between fine chemicals (high degree of purity ) and technical chemicals (lower degree of purity). The term heavy chemicals for inorganic base materials that are produced in large quantities (e.g. sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid ) is also widespread .

The degrees of purity are mostly related to the intended use:

  • Technical (possibly larger impurities; often discolored: e.g. technical hydrochloric acid yellowish due to chloroiron (III) complexes), mostly for use as a solvent or cleaning agent in commercial operations
  • To the synthesis (per synthesis)
  • Purely
  • Pure
  • Reinst, Zur Analyze (z. A.); per analysi (p. A.), guarantee certificate with maximum content of impurities integrated in the label
  • The bottle comes with special names from the manufacturers for ultra-pure chemicals for analysis in the ultra-trace range, a detailed guarantee certificate with maximum levels of many relevant impurities.
    • TraceSelect, Selectipur, Supra, Suprapur
    • TraceSelect Ultra, Ultrapur

Number and properties of chemicals

There are approximately 100,000 chemicals available in the market worldwide, with the estimate of industrial chemicals ranging from 25,000 to over 80,000. According to the latest findings, more than 350,000 chemicals and chemical mixtures have been registered for manufacture and use. Several thousand of these substances are used in large quantities in Europe. These include around 3000 active ingredients in pharmaceuticals (10,000 on the yellow list ), more than 300 food additives and around 270 approved crop protection agents . Globally, around 90% of the total amount of chemicals produced annually is distributed over around 3000 individual substances. Around 4600 high production volume chemicals are produced or imported in quantities greater than 1000 tons per year.

However, a total of over 100 million chemical compounds are known and registered with the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) (as of the end of 2015). Each year produced over one million new substances worldwide ( synthesis ), examined ( analysis ) described in the literature and existing material groups of chemicals classified.

Many of these chemicals also occur naturally. So far, more than 5000 minerals, several thousand individual substances in tobacco , more than 1800 in roasted coffee and more than 500 in petroleum have been identified.

Information on the substance properties of individual chemicals can be found in the catalogs of the chemical manufacturers or in the major reference works such as Beilstein , Gmelin , Hager , CRC Handbook , Kirk-Othmer , Landolt-Börnstein , Merck Index , Nouveau Traités , Rodd , Ullmann and others.


The Chemical Abstracts Service assigns each chemical a CAS number , which is a unique identifier. Other similar markings are the EC number , EINECS / ELINCS and the UN number . In view of the large number of chemical compounds, a number of additional information is used, some of which are internationally regulated, for example by IUCLID 6 and the globally harmonized system for the classification and labeling of chemicals (GHS). .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: chemical  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Chemicals  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Entry on chemicals. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on July 25, 2014.
  2. chemical. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved February 16, 2016
  3. The European chemical industry. 110 edition of the Hans Böckler Foundation (PDF, p. 17).
  4. Johannes Arends: Popular names of drugs, medicinal herbs, medicines and chemicals. 17th edition. Berlin / Heidelberg 2001.
  5. SOCMA> Advocacy> Issues> Chemical Risk Management> Myth Versus Fact About Chemicals in Commerce: SOCMA> Advocacy> Issues> Chemical Risk Management> Myth Versus Fact About Chemicals in Commerce , accessed on 19 October 2018
  6. Zhanyun Wang, Glen W. Walker, Derek CG Muir, Kakuko Nagatani-Yoshida: Toward a Global Understanding of Chemical Pollution: A First Comprehensive Analysis of National and Regional Chemical Inventories . In: Environmental Science & Technology . January 22, 2020, doi : 10.1021 / acs.est.9b06379 .
  7. Umweltbundesamt: Chemicals , accessed on October 16, 2018
  8. Robert Schultz-Heienbrok: Understanding Medicines The art of making use of risks . Springer-Verlag, 2018, ISBN 3-662-57676-7 , pp. 57 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  9. Yellow list: Active ingredients from A to Z | Yellow List , accessed October 19, 2018
  10. European Commission: Re-evaluation - European Commission , accessed on October 19, 2018
  11. Federal Environment Agency: Plant Protection Products | Federal Environment Agency , accessed on October 19, 2018
  12. Claus Bliefert: Environmental Chemistry . John Wiley & Sons, 2012, ISBN 3-527-66299-5 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  13. BfR: OECD program for the evaluation of chemicals with high production volumes - BfR , accessed on October 19, 2018
  14. CAS Assigns the 100 Millionth CAS Registry Number® to a Substance Designed to Treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia ( Memento from September 5, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Press release on the 100 millionth compound in CAS from June 29, 2015.
  15. IMA / CNMNC List of Mineral Names (March 2018, PDF, 1.61 MB).
  16. Alan Rodgman, Thomas A. Perfetti: The Chemical Components of Tobacco and Tobacco Smoke . CRC Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1-4665-1552-9 , pp. 1497 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  17. Ronald Clarke, OG Vitzthum: Coffee Recent Developments . John Wiley & Sons, 2008, ISBN 0-470-68021-0 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  18. ^ Lars Pingel: Energetic Use of Petroleum - Future Development, Reserves and Forecasts . GRIN Verlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-640-14195-1 , pp. 2 ( limited preview in Google Book search).