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Answered 2012-02-26 09:28:32

A chemical formula is the number of atoms in a substance, and is the same as a molecular formula (provided the substance is a molecule - if not, it has no molecular formula). A structural formula shows how the atoms are linked, and there are different interpretations of this:

eg C3H8O2 is the chemical formula of 1,2 propan di-ol, which is the same as the chemical formula of 1,1 propan di-ol

the structural formula however is CH2OHCHOHCH3 for 1,2 propan di-ol and CH(OH)2CH2CH3 for 1,1 propan di-ol. A displayed formula shows all the bonds:

........H..OH...H.............O-H...H...H

........|....|.....|..................|....|.....|

....H-C.-.C.-.C.-.H.....H-O-C.-.C.-.C.-.H

........|....|.....|..................|....|.....|

....H-O...H....H.................H...H....H

1,2 propan di-ol........1,1 propan di-ol

----------------------------------

Some chemicals, such as table salt, have no molecule. Thus, they only have chemical formula but not molecular formula. The chemical formula of table salt is NaCl. There are other salts, such as Na2SO4, MgSO4, etc. (If you hear people saying "the salt molecule has the formula of NaCl...", believe me, they do not know what they are talking about.)

Some compounds exist as molecules- discrete entities, such as water. This kind of compounds have molecular formula. Water's is H2O.

Structural formula? Never heard of.

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