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2009 FIDM/The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

FIDM eLearning Program Page 1 of 2

Chapter 2: The Chemical Basis of Life

1. Elements
a. Of the 25 chemical elements essential to life, carbon (C), hydrogen (H),
oxygen (O), and nitrogen (N) make up most (about 96%) of living matter.
b. Trace elements, (such as iron, iodine, magnesium, zinc, fluorine) are essential to
health and may be added to food and water
c. Compounds are formed when elements combine in specific ratios; vitamins,
proteins, fats are examples
2. Atoms
a. smallest unit of an element, consist of protons and neutrons (in nucleus) and
electrons (arranged in electron shells around nucleus)
b. Atomic number =number of protons (electrons are the same)
c. Atomic mass =number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus
d. Isotopes = atoms of an element with varying number of neutrons
e. Radioactive isotopes unstable isotopes that may be harmful, but also useful in
medicine and research
3. Chemical bonds and Molecules
a. Electron arrangement in the outer shell of an atom determines chemical
properties of atom; an atom with an electron shell that is not full tends to react
with other atoms to gain, lose, or share electrons to form chemical bonds.
b. Ionic bonds when atoms gain or lose electrons to create charged atoms called
ions, the oppositely charged ions attract one another to form ionic bonds
c. Covalent bonds when atoms share electrons to complete their outer shells they
form covalent bonds
d. Molecules = when two or more atoms are bonded together (typically covalent
4. Polarity
a. Electronegativity atoms attraction for electrons
b. Nonpolar molecule a molecule is nonpolar when the electrons are shared
equally between the atoms (such as O2, H2, CH4)
c. Polar molecule - electrons are NOT shared equally; water molecule (H2O) is
an example oxygen has a stronger attraction to the electrons, so is more
electronegative than the hydrogen atoms
d. Hydrogen bonds the slightly positively-charged H atoms in one water
molecule may attract a neighboring O (or N) with a slightly negative charge,
forming a weak hydrogen bond

FIDM eLearning Program Page 2 of 2
1. Hydrogen bonds
a. Cohesion when molecules stick together; hydrogen bonds make water
molecules cohesive; this allows water to rise against the force of gravity as it does
from roots to leaves in a tree; creates surface tension allowing insects to stride
across a pond
b. Moderate temperature changes it takes a lot of energy to disrupt hydrogen
bonds, so water can absorb a lot of heat energy before temperature begins to rise;
when water is cooled, heat energy is released and hydrogen bonds form to slow
the cooling process
c. Evaporation (or vaporization)
The high boiling point of water (100 degrees Celsius) is due to the hydrogen
bonds because it takes a lot of heat energy to break apart the water
Evaporative cooling occurs because the water molecule takes heat energy
with it when it evaporates.
d. Ice hydrogen bonds hold molecules in ice farther apart than in liquid water
because the bonds are stable, making ice less dense and able to float in water; this
property helps prevent oceans and lakes from freezing solid
2. Solutions a uniform liquid mixture of two or more substances
a. Solvent the dissolving agent
b. Solute the substance dissolved
c. Aqueous solutions when water is the solvent; water is the solvent of life;
waters polarity makes it versatile: polar or charged solutes dissolve when water
molecules surround them
In solution, somewater dissociates into ions it forms hydrogen ions (H+)
and hydroxide ions (OH-)
Acids = a compound that releases or donates hydrogen ions (H+) in solution
Bases = a compound that accepts or removes H+
pH scale measurement of H+; 0 (most acidic, highest concentration H+) to
14 (most basic, lowest concentration of H+)
most cells close to pH 7 (neutral); maintained by buffers, substances that
resist pH changes by accepting or donating H+as needed
d. Acid precipitation - formed when air pollutants from burning fossil fuels
combine with water vapor in the air to form sulfuric and nitric acids; threatens

1. Matter is rearranged in chemical reactions as bonds are broken and reformed into
new substances.
2. Reactants =the starting substance in a chemical reaction
3. Products =the resulting substances following the reaction
4. Conservation of Matter the number of atoms is maintained from the reactants to
the products; the only difference is the arrangement of the atoms