10 Difference Between Element and Compound (With Table)

Chemistry is a branch of science that deals with the study of chemical substances and their properties. These chemical substances are found both in pure and impure forms.

Some of the pure chemical substances are elements and compounds. But many learners usually find it hard to differentiate between compounds and elements.

So, what is the main difference between element and compound? An element is a pure substance that consists of one type of atom whereas a compound is formed by two or more different types of elements that are chemically combined.

This article provides further differences between elements and compounds in a tabular form. Take time to read through it and learn more about their similarities.

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Comparison Table (Element vs Compound)

Basic Terms Element Compound
DescriptionIt is a pure substance that consists of one type of atomIt is a substance that consists of two or more different elements that are chemically combined.
Total NumbersThere are 118 elements where 94 of which occur naturally on earth.The list of compounds is endless.
ClassificationMetals, metalloids, and non-metalloids.Grouped according to the bonds formed eg ionic, molecular, or metallic bonding.
ExamplesCopper, zinc, iron, goldSodium chloride, potassium hydroxide, magnesium oxide.
RepresentationEither by symbols or numbersBy chemical formulas.
DifferentiationBy use of atomic numbersBy use of the fixed ratio of different elements
Composition and PropertiesConsist of one type of atom which defines the properties of the elementThe same type of molecules makes up the compound.
Ability to breakdownCannot be split into the smallest form.Can be separated into simpler substances by chemical reactions.
Smallest Individual EntityAtomMolecule
Periodic tablePresentAbsent

What Is an Element?

An element is a pure substance that composes of one type of atom. Elements cannot be broken down into the smallest form by the use of chemical processes.

But new elements can be formed by nuclear reaction. The smallest individual entity of an element is an atom. Atoms of an element have a same number of protons but different neutrons and electrons.

There are about 118 elements where 94 occur on earth naturally and the remaining 24 are synthetic elements formed during a nuclear reaction.

Examples of elements are copper, zinc, aluminum, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and more. These elements occur on the periodic table.

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What Is a Compound?

A compound is a chemical substance formed by combining different types of elements. The substance formed usually displaces different chemical properties.

Compounds are endless but can be classified into groups according to the bond formation. The main bonds formed are ionic, metallic, and molecular.

These chemical substances are represented by the use of chemical formulas. Compounds can be separated by the use of chemical reactions into their simplest form.

The smallest individual entity of a compound is a molecule. These molecules determine the chemical properties of the compound.

Examples of compounds are sodium hydroxide, sodium chloride, sulphuric acid, methane, acetic acid, and more. Compounds are not found on the periodic table.

Main Difference between Element and Compound

  1. An element consists of one type of atom. Compounds consist of two or more different atoms combined by use of chemical reaction.
  2. The smallest unit of an element is an atom. The smallest unit of a compound is a molecule.
  3. Elements cannot be split into the smallest form. Compounds can be decomposed into the smallest form by chemical reaction.
  4. Elements are represented symbolically. Compounds are represented by the use of chemical formulas.
  5. Elements are pure substances. Elements are impure substances.
  6. Elements are separated by atomic numbers. Compounds are separated by atomic ratio.
  7. There are 118 elements in the world. There is an unlimited number of compounds in the world.
  8. Elements are classified into metals, non-metals, and metalloids. Compounds are classified according to their bonds like covalent, metallic, ionic, and molecular.
  9. Examples of elements are hydrogen, oxygen, iron, copper, and sodium. Examples of compounds are water, sodium hydroxide, sodium chloride, and sodium bicarbonate.

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Similarities between Element and Compound

  1. Both are pure substances.
  2. Both have bonds linking atoms together.
  3. Both are homogenous substances.
  4. Both have weight and occupy space.

In Conclusion

The matter is anything that has mass and volume. Atoms, elements, compounds, and mixture are all forms of matter. They are further classified as either pure or impure substances.

Atoms, elements, and compounds are pure substances. A pure substance consists of one type of particle. Mixtures are impure substances.

The smallest unit of an element is an atom and that of the compound is a molecule. Elements have the same properties as the atoms while compounds have different chemical properties with the molecules.

The main difference between compound and element is that a compound consists of two or more atoms while an element consists of one type of atom.

Elements are grouped as metals, non-metals, and metalloids. Compounds are grouped based on their chemical bonds like covalent, ionic, metallic, and molecular.

Sources and References

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