Between chemicals and petrochemicals: who’s who

Since the 21st century, the demand for both chemicals and petrochemicals has been bounded by being eco-friendly.

There is a huge difference between both worlds. So, let’s explore it together and mention the difference between chemicals and petrochemicals. 

Chemicals Petrochemicals
Definition Chemicals are classified into 2 key categories:

Unprocessed and manufactured chemicals.

  • The unprocessed chemicals are those found in nature and haven’t changed their basic composition.
  • The manufactured chemicals are those modified by scientists and are often dubbed (Synthetic Chemicals).
Petrochemicals are hydrocarbons derived from crude oil, natural gas, or biomass.

After enduring heavy pressure and high temperatures in oil refineries and natural gas processing units, basic, intermediate, and final petrochemical products are extracted to feed a myriad of vital industries.

Emergence 100 centuries ago. Since the 1940’s.
Examples Zinc, Helium, Oxygen, Sulfuric acid, etc. Ethylene, Propylene, Butylene, Benzene, Toluene, Xylenes, along with numerous other derivatives.

Introducing the most common petrochemicals and chemicals

Representation of the periodic table of elements.

To secure life on earth, there must be 6 basic chemicals representing 97% of the human body: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and phosphorus. The earth’s minerals as well are considered chemicals; like quartz, cobalt, and mica. In addition, the periodic table also falls under the chemical family. As for petrochemicals, they can be found in a wide range of contemporary items. Common petrochemicals include ethylene, propylene, butylene, benzene, toluene, and xylenes. When combined with other materials they create many of our everyday commodities such as plastics, soaps, rubbers, and paints. 

How are petrochemicals useful to us?

Petrochemicals are useful due to their indispensable use in our day-to-day commodities. They are crucial to our modern societies. They can be found in medicines, cosmetics, furniture, and electronics. Allow for certain features of our daily products, such as:

  • Making our phones water-resistant,
  • Keeping food fresher for longer periods,
  • Allow for tires to repair themselves,
  • Providing better medical care thanks to improved medical technologies. 

Why did petrochemicals become widely used in products?

Petrochemicals possess convenient characteristics for mass production, including being cost-effective, economically stable, and cheaper.  They’re becoming widely used in products because certain products we use are gaining popularity, requiring increased production, which calls for cost-effective materials. Additionally, petrochemicals are not just limited to the production of domestic items but are also used in industrial and agricultural fields. 

Where is the best place to store chemicals?

Chemicals should always be separated and stored to avoid unforeseen interactions based on the possible danger they pose. Taking storage precautions involves classifying chemicals into the following order:

  • Pyrophorics
  • Water reactives
  • Flammables
  • Corrosives
  • Oxidizers
  • Toxics.

It is known that chemicals should be physically stored away from incompatible chemicals. 

Some key guidelines to remember when storing chemicals include:

  • Storing chemicals far from direct sunlight or sources of heat
  • Chemicals should not be stored on floors, window ledges, or balconies.
  • When kept in a container, the container should be closed unless it is being used. 
  • Labeling the chemical containers is recommended for optimal safety and storage.

To conclude, between chemicals and petrochemicals: who’s who, chemicals can be classified into unprocessed, those directly derived from nature, and manufacturing chemicals, whose composition is modified. Meanwhile, petrochemicals are hydrocarbons extracted from cure oil, natural gas, or biomass.

Many chemicals can be found already in the human body, while petrochemicals are used to create necessities such as medicine, detergents, and pesticides. Petrochemicals provide a cost-effective solution to mass production as they are found in most of our everyday items and allow for some of them to offer features such as water resistance.