Difference Between Molecule and Element

Difference Between Molecule and Element

Before getting to the heart of the matter, it is necessary that you understand the smallest particle of matter. This will give you a better perspective of the difference between elements and molecules. An atom is the smallest piece of chemical material. It is the basic unit of matter and every chemical element you can think of. For your information, every substance on earth has a chemical composition. This means that everything that has mass and occupies space is made up of atoms.

Definition of Molecule

An atom may be the smallest form of matter, but it cannot be seen. More importantly, it cannot take part in a chemical reaction by itself. This makes it somewhat negligible. For this “smallest unit” to cease to be negligible, it must combine with other similar bodies to take part in a chemical reaction.

Thus, when an atom binds to other atoms to form a homogeneous body through a chemical reaction, it is called a molecule. Thus, the type of bond that results in the formation of a molecule is essentially known as a “chemical bond”.

Some examples include:

  • NaCl – salt
  • C6H1206 – a type of sugar known as glucose
  • H20 – common water
  • 03 – ozone

Definition of Element

If you take a closer look at the above examples, you will notice that each of them is made of different base materials. For example, H20 (water) is composed of hydrogen and oxygen that have joined together to form water by a chemical bond. But before they were bonded to each other, they were in their pure form. These pure forms have a major difference between element and molecule, and are called elements.

An element is the most fundamental particle that consists of only one type of atom. There are 118 known to man, and they are all listed in the periodic table according to certain properties.

Some examples include:

  • Helium – He
  • Carbon – C
  • Silicon – Si
  • Silver – Ag

These definitions show a great difference between molecule and element. Their differences are also evident in their properties, some of which will be discussed in the table below.

Molecule vs Element Comparison Table

Basic of ComparisonMoleculeElement
Definition Atoms that bond together with other atoms to form a homogeneous body by a chemical reactionThe most fundamental substance that consists of a single type of atom
Chemical reactionRequired Not required
SizeLarger Smaller
Compound statusAll are compoundsNot all are compounds

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Molecule vs Element

Despite all that has been said, everything that exists has a chemical composition as long as it has mass and occupies some form of space. This article is a basic summary that answers the question: “what is the difference between molecules and elements?” If you study them further, you will see that they are more than that; it is only a preamble.