Graphite and Diamond, two of the many forms of Carbon

Carbon is a non-metal element with an atomic number of 6, a mass number of 12, and the symbol C.


Carbon forms a vast number of compounds, more than any other element, with almost ten million compounds described to date, and yet that number is but a fraction of the number of theoretically possible compounds under standard conditions. For this reason, carbon has often been referred to as the «king of the elements». Many of these compounds include:

  • Methane, formula CH4. It has one carbon atom linked with four hydrogen atoms.
  • Carbon Dioxide, formula CO2. It has one carbon atom linked with two oxygen atoms.

Carbon exists in many forms, for example, diamonds are crystals of pure carbon. Graphite in pencil leads and coal are also made out of pure carbon. It has a sublimation temperature of approx. 3,800 degrees Celsius.

Atomic Structure

Carbon has 6 protons, neutrons and electrons.