Carbon dioxide is one of the most popular gases in science.

We are so familiar with this gas. It’s used as a fire extinguisher, it’s used by plants for respiration, and as humans, we breathe out carbon dioxide.

Now, if you take a moment to think about carbon dioxide, you probably are wondering what kind of matter is this?

Is carbon dioxide an element, compound, or mixture?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a compound. It consists of 2 different atoms (Carbon and Oxygen) that combine chemically. Since the atoms bond chemically, this compound can be broken down chemically too.

So, carbon dioxide consists of 2 different atoms.. But why isn’t carbon dioxide a mixture?

Is carbon dioxide a pure substance?

Keep on reading and find the answers!

What Does Carbon Dioxide Consists Of?

The molecule of Carbon dioxide consists of 1 Carbon atom and 2 Oxygen atoms that form covalent bond. It has the chemical formula of CO2.

Its present in our everyday life, usually as a gas.

Carbon dioxide can be solid when it achieves cold temperature under -78.5 degrees Celcius (at 1 Atmosphere). When the temperature is above -78.5 degrees Celcius, the solid carbon dioxide sublimes (change directly from solid into a gas).

Is Carbon Dioxide an Element or A Compound?

Carbon dioxide is a compound. It consists of Carbon atom and Oxygen atoms that bond chemically.

In science, compound is a matter that consists of two or more kind of atoms which bond chemically and therefore cannot be broken down by a simple physical process.

Carbon dioxide fulfill its requirement. It consists of two different atoms which bond chemically and you will need a chemical reaction to break it down.

Since it is made up of two different atoms, Carbon dioxide is NOT an element.

Element is a matter that consists of only one single type of atom. Some examples of elements are Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Carbon.

Is Carbon Dioxide A Pure Substance?

Yes, carbon dioxide is a pure substance. It’s a compound that consists only of carbon dioxide molecules and it has consistent composition throughout the sampling area.

A pure substance is a matter that consists of 1 type of element or 1 type of substance. If you take a sample of a pure substance, it should have constant composition no matter on which area it is taken from.

Why Isn’t Carbon Dioxide A Mixture?

Carbon dioxide is not a mixture because the elements (Carbon and Oxygen) bond CHEMICALLY and it’s only possible to break it down chemically. You cannot separate it physically so it’s not considered a mixture.

A mixture is a matter that consists of two or more elements that combine PHYSICALLY so it can be separated physically too. You don’t need a complicated chemical process to break it down.

Some examples of mixtures are: mud, milkshake, coffee, and orange juice.

Can You See Carbon Dioxide?

Without any special instruments, normally we cannot see carbon dioxide gas. But we can see solid carbon dioxide (dry ice). The fizz in soda drink actually contains CO2, but we technically cannot ‘see’ the gas.

Carbon dioxide in gaseous state basically has no odor, no taste, and no color.

What Are The Uses of Carbon Dioxide?

  • Plants use carbon dioxide for respiration and produce oxygen
  • Fire extinguisher contains carbon dioxide to ‘fight’ the oxygen which fuels up the fire
  • Coolant is often made of carbon dioxide
  • Soda drinks have some carbon dioxide so that it’s fizzy

Daniel Smithson

Hi, I'm Daniel Smithson, a Chemistry teacher for over 35-years and the founder of Learning should be fun and accessible to all. Find out more about our mission here:

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