Carbon is one of the most important chemical elements. Industry uses it in a wide variety of products, and all living things contain carbon. Yet it makes up less than 0,03 per cent of the earth’s crust.
Pure carbon exists in nature in the form of diamonds and in graphite such as that used in some lead pencils.
Both forms are pure carbon with different crystal structures.
The forms of pure carbon vary widely depending upon which crystal structure the atoms take.
In diamonds, the carbon atoms are arranged in a close framework that makes diamond one of the hardest substances known. Diamonds are used to cut other hard materials.
In contrast, graphite is so soft that it can be used to lubricate moving machines parts.
At room temperature carbon does not react chemically but its compounds unite easily with other elements and compounds. At high temperatures carbon combines with oxygen sulfur and certain metals.
Its atomic number is 6 and its atomic weight is 12.01115.