Carbon monoxide is a poisonous chemical substance.

In our everyday life, carbon monoxide can be found in the fumes of vehicles, fireplaces, and stoves.

If you’re landed here, chances are you’re curious about the classification of carbon monoxide, right?

Is carbon monoxide an element, compound, or mixture?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a compound that consists of two different elements i.e. Carbon and Oxygen. Those elements combine chemically, making a chemical bond between them. The molecule of carbon monoxide consists of 1 Carbon atom and 1 Oxygen atom, it’s always that way. Thus, carbon monoxide is a compound, neither an element nor a mixture.

This article will talk about the classification of carbon monoxide. Why is it not a mixture? Why is it a compound?

So, keep on reading and keep on learning!

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, toxic substance that is produced when a combustion reaction isn’t complete.

In a complete combustion, Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen combine to produce CO2 (Carbon dioxide) and H2O (water).

But sometimes, the conditions aren’t supportive enough so that the combustion happens incompletely, so some of the Carbons don’t oxidize completely, and the molecule of CO (Carbon monoxide) occurs.

The examples of condition that induce incomplete combustion are the lack of air supply, the lack of time, and the lack mixing between air and fuel.

Carbon monoxide is poisonous because, when it’s inhaled by humans, it can replace the oxygen in our blood. If there is too much carbon monoxide in our body, we will lose consciousness and suffocate.

Carbon monoxide is called ‘the silent killer’ because the poisoning phase isn’t ‘shocking’ enough so some people might be ignoring it. The most dangerous case is when someone doesn’t realize that they are inhaling a lot of carbon monoxide and then they lose consciousness (thus unable to walk away from the carbon monoxide source) and they pass away.

Avoid carbon monoxide when you can.

Is Carbon Monoxide an Element?

No, carbon monoxide is not an element. Carbon monoxide consists of TWO different elements i.e. Carbon and Oxygen.

In science, an element is a substance that consists of its own self. It’s not produced by combining different elements. It’s pure. Therefore, an element cannot be broken down.

Some examples of elements are pure gold (Au), lead (Pb), oxygen (O2), and carbon (C).

Why is carbon dioxide not an element?

Carbon dioxide is not an element because it consists of two different kinds of elements, which are carbon and oxygen. Carbon and oxygen are elements themselves. But when they both combine together chemically, they form something else.

Is Carbon Monoxide A Compound or Mixture?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a compound that consists of Carbon atom and Oxygen atom that bond chemically. The ratio of Carbon Monoxide is always the same (1 Carbon and 1 Oxygen). Thus, carbon monoxide is classified as a compound, not a mixture.

In science, a substance can be considered a mixture when it consists of two or more elements or compounds that combine without forming chemical bond. Besides, a mixture doesn’t need to have definite ration of composition. It means that the same kind of mixture can have different ratio of compositin.

Some examples of mixtures are air, steel, and brass.

Carbon monoxide doesn’t qualify as a mixture.

A compound is a substance that consists of two or more elements that combine chemically. Those elements form chemical bond. Those elements also combine in definite ratio. It means that the same compound will have different ratio of composition no matter where you find it on earth.

An example of compound is NaCl (salt). It consists of two different elements i.e. Na (Sodium) and Cl (chlorine. One part of sodium and one part of chlorine. It’s always that way.

Carbon Monoxide has a definite ratio of composition. It always consists of one part of Carbon and one part of Oxygen. If it consists of one part of carbon and two part of oxygen, it becomes another thing that is called Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

Carbon monoxide fulfill the requirement so it’s classified as compound.

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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