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Chemical Formula

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A chemical formula expresses the exact composition of a molecule or substance using the chemical abbreviations of the chemical elements.

A chemical element is a substance that can not be separated into simpler substances by chemical means. There are currently 118 known chemical elements of which 94 are naturally occurring (albeit some of those occur only in minuscule quantities). Common examples of chemical elements include carbon, hydrogen, chlorine, sodium and iron.

The smallest basic unit of a chemical element that can enter into chemical reactions is called an atom.

Additional Info

There are several different ways of expressing chemical formulas:

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SDS Relevance

Safety Data Sheets provide key information about the chemicals that you use in your workplace. Be sure to read and understand the SDS of every substance you use or are exposed to at work before you work with the material.

Recognize that a molecular formula is not necessarily a unique identifier for a chemical substance. Do not rely on molecular formulas alone to label or identify a substance. For example, the molecular formulas of glucose (a form of sugar) and 1,3-dihydroxy-2-propanone dimer (an eye and skin irritant) are identical, C6H12O6.

Chemical names are not always reliable because a common chemical may be known by several different names. For example, methylene chloride, dichloromethane and methylenebichloride are common names for the same substance, CH2Cl2. If you need a unique identifier, use the CAS Registry Number as well as molecular formula and name.

Further Reading

See also: CAS Registry Number, mole.

Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.

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