INTRODUCTION TO CHEMISTRY
When you were in primary school, you used to learn science as a single subject. At this level of study, the subject will be broken up into three related subjects, namely Chemistry, Biology and Physics. The three subjects are closely related. You will require the knowledge of one subject to study the other.
For example, you will apply the knowledge of chemistry to study different chemical reactions that take place in the body for studying biology of the human body, etc. Likewise as a biologist, you will need the knowledge of physics to study movements of different limbs of the body, etc. Therefore, these few examples show how the three subjects are interdependent.
Chemistry is usually studied along with other related subjects such as biology, physics, earth sciences and mathematics. A person studying science is called a scientist. A scientist specialized in the study of chemistry is called a chemist.
The concept of chemistry
Chemistry is a branch of science that deals with the study of nature, properties and composition of matter. Matter can be defined as anything that has weight or mass and can occupy space. Therefore, in chemistry we study materials that make up the earth and universe. These range from living to non-living materials.
We apply the knowledge of chemistry to study the composition, behaviour and nature of materials around us. This study enables us to make the best use of these materials to improve our welfare.
Materials Objects Made by Application of Chemistry
All these industries are responsible for the production of materials that we need to support and hence improve our lives. Materials made by the application of chemistry knowledge include soap, chalk, shoes, clothes, petroleum products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, drugs, and many others. Can you mention some of the materials made by the application of chemistry knowledge?
This, therefore, means that chemistry is applied in factories, homes, hospitals, pharmacies, research centers, higher learning institutions, etc.
Many products made by the application of chemistry in industry are all around us. Some of these materials are summarized in the table:
Some products made by application of chemistry
|Field where applied||Examples of products|
|Medicine||Drugs, vaccines, nutritional supplements|
|Agriculture||Agro-chemicals ( fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, acaricides), animal drugs and vaccines, animal feed and supplements|
|Manufacturing industry||Vehicles, cement, plastics, chemicals, paints, iron sheets, vanishes, glue|
|Food and beverage industry||Soft and alcoholic drinks, baked food, canned food, spices, cooking oil, salt|
|Home care and cosmetics industry||Cosmetics, detergents, toothpaste, shoe polish, insecticides, antiseptics, disinfectants|
|Transport||Fuels, lubricants, oil, grease, tar, coolants, tyres|
|Textile industry||Clothes, dyes, bleaches, wax, threads|
|Leather industry||Shoes, handbags, belts, leather articles|
Some materials made by application of chemistry
Nature is made of materials that may be useless, less useful and even harmful. There are also things that are very useful to our lives. Through chemistry, we are able to transform (change) various materials chemically or physically into forms or products that are more useful to man
What items are made from plastics in your home? Soft drink bottles are made from glass. The major component of glass is sand. Glass is made by mixing sand with metal oxides in a furnace at high temperatures. Some clothing is made from natural fibers such as cotton or silk.
What other items made by chemical processes do you know?
Sustainable crop and animal production is also enhanced by application of chemistry knowledge. The use of chemicals in agriculture is inevitable. Fertilizers, insecticides, acaricides, herbicides (weed killers) have and are still playing a good role in agricultural and animal production. In some ecological zones, in order to get good harvest, fertilizer, herbicide and insecticide application is necessary. The same case applies to animal production. As regards to control and prevention of tick-borne diseases, application of different acaricides is often stressed. Also is the use of different drugs to treat internal parasites such as worms, and vaccines to prevent certain diseases.
The Importance of Chemistry in Daily Life
There are a number of reasons for studying chemistry. If you ask someone to tell you the reason for studying chemistry, he/she will give reasons based on how the subject touches him/her. However, there are general and universal reasons as to why we should devote our valuable time and energy to the study of chemistry. In general, we study chemistry because it helps as to understand:
the composition of materials around us;
the nature, properties and behaviour of these materials;
why and how materials behave as they do;
how a new material, based on the known properties of its allies or counterparts might behave;
how to make new materials which will be useful to us; and
how to extract and use materials from the earth to improve our welfare.
to produce professionals in different disciplines such as pharmacy, engineering, medical and natural science professions; and
make items, goods and materials for sale such as chemical laboratory equipments and reagents, medicines, rubber, cement, paints, steel, plastics, etc. What other materials do you think can be included in the list?
Therefore, we can summarize that the study of chemistry is important for survival, development and welfare of man as well as sustainable production of crops and animals.