Name: Bill Unwin
Date: Around 1999
What is the chemistry of aspirin? What does C9H8O4 mean?
First of all, make sure that you work
together with a grownup before experimenting
with any chemicals. I am a chemist, and
real chemists NEVER WORK ALONE.
Aspirin is the common name of the chemical
chemists know as salicylic acid. If it is
dissolved in water the solution will be acidic
(just like vinegar and lemon juice are acidic).
Aspirin is a weak acid, though, so unless a
lot of aspirin is dissolved it will not be
nearly as strong an acid as those.
C9H8O4 is a formula which tells how many atoms
are in each molecule of salicylic acid.
So there are 9 C (carbon) atoms, 8 H (hydrogen)
atoms, and 4 O (oxygen) atoms.
I hope this helps.
Dept of Chemistry
The Cooper Union
New York, NY
Aspirin is really a nickname for acetylsalicylic acid. The C9H8O4 is the
chemical formula for aspirin, which is a type of short cut to tell what it
is made of. C stands for carbon, H stands for hydrogen and O stands for
oxygen. So, C9H8O4 means that each aspirin molecule is made up of 9
carbon atoms, 8 hydrogen atoms and 4 oxygen atoms.
These atoms are actually in a very cool arrangement. Six of the carbons
link together to form a ring, with the other atoms hanging off the sides.
The shape and the electrical charges of the molecule give it the ability to
stop fever and pain in the body.
Laura Hungerford, DVM, MPH, PhD
University of Nebraska
C9H8O4 tells the number and type of atoms in a molecule of aspirin. In
this case, it means 9 carbon, 8 hydrogen and 4 oxygen. This does not
completely specify what a molecule of aspirin is, as other molecules can
contain the same number and types of atoms in different arrangements.
As far as what the "chemistry" of aspirin is, well, I'm not quilified to
completely explain all its effects in the body, etc. If you have a
specific question about some particular type of effect it has or reaction
it might undergo, that will be easier to answer than a general question
about chemistry. There is so much that could be said about the chemistry
of aspirin (or any other compound, for that matter) that I really don't
know where to begin.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph. D.
Argonne National Laboratory
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Update: June 2012