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Answer to Question #33273 in Biochemistry for marissa

Question #33273
Is carbon very reactive (in comparison to hydrogen or sodium)?
Expert's answer
Carbon can either form compounds with other elements or bepresent as a solid compound, such as graphite or coal. Different carboncompounds can be either reactive or not. However, if we talk about solid carbon, it is nonreactive. Hydrogen and sodium are much more reactive than solid carbon. This difference in reactivity can be explained by the structure of atoms of the mentioned elements. Both hydrogen and sodium have one electron on their external orbital. It is easier for them to donate it to other substance. Thus, they are very active. Hydrogen, for example is never observed in its atomic form. It is always bound to some other atom. At the same time, carbonhas four electrons. Thus, it can either donate the four electrons or accept four electrons from the other atom. As a result, carbon atoms can form bonds with the other carbon atoms. All the possible bonds are formed between carbon atoms in graphite and coal. Thus, carbon within them can't react with other substances. Therefore, it is nonreactive.

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