It is the first time I heard such a generalization, I had no idea. Why being liquid in standard conditions is special to compounds which contain carbon atom? Which property of carbon cause this?

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    $\begingroup$ It is a property of human mind, and not that of carbon. If you hear about a remote island inhabited by two-headed people, will you seek an explanation, or try to verify whether the thing is true in the first place? Water, mercury, H2SO4, Br2, POCl3 all are liquid, despite containing no carbon. Methane, CO2, naphthalene, adamantane, diamond all contain carbon, but... $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2018 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ @IvanNeretin - while I totally agree with you, the fact remains that organic chemistry sure makes a lot of things that are liquid at STP. Far more than, say, Osmium... $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 12, 2018 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster True, but then again, organic chemistry also makes far more gases and far more solids than osmium. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2018 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ @IvanNeretin - OK, I'm getting a little silly, but carbon should get a lot of credit simply for ethanol... Cheers! $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 12, 2018 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ @IvanNeretin Hello there, asking here is my way to verify actually :) I searched and couldn't find anything satisfying that's why I asked here. I already know there are liquid compounds that's why I wrote "rare" not "impossible". Because organic compounds form a majority. Thank you anyway. $\endgroup$
    – O.Ceren
    Dec 13, 2018 at 10:27

1 Answer 1


The property of carbon that causes this is the ability to form rings and chains that are stable under atmospheric conditions.

The only reason why ‘so many liquids contain carbon’ is basically confirmation bias. There are orders of magnitude more compounds known that contain carbon than those that do not. For the longest time in the history of chemistry, inorganic chemistry was restricted to very simple molecules of only a handful of atoms while polymerisation was already a thing in organic chemistry. Furthermore, a large proportion of ionic compounds is inorganic—or, in the context of this question better: carbon-free—and most of these are solids at standard temperature and pressure adding to the confirmation bias.

Thus, by sheer economy of scale the number of known carbon-containing liquids is far higher than the number of known carbon-free liquids.


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