As a student, you may have hated Chemistry classes because you found them irrelevant and useless. The truth is the complete opposite. Chemistry studies a wide range of chemical reactions that are of vital importance to living beings. Without chemical reactions, our bodies would not be able to perform basic functions and the Earth would not be what it is right now. So, why are chemical reactions so important? Here are ten reasons:
#1. Chemical reactions are needed to digest food
Metabolism refers to a set of chemical reactions that can be categorized as catabolism (degradation) and anabolism (biosynthesis). While catabolism is responsible for digestion and the release of free energy, anabolism involves the formation of complex molecules from simpler compounds. Metabolism is a multi-step process during which enzyme-catalyzed chemical reactions provide your body with energy. Without these chemical reactions, your body would not be able to digest food or have sufficient energy to perform basic functions, such as breathing, blood circulation, or physical activity.
#2. Chemical reactions are important for plants to grow
Photosynthesis is when plants and some other organisms use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and carbohydrates. These carbohydrates serve as an energy source for the organism producing them and for non-photosynthetic organisms consuming photosynthetic organisms. The process through which carbon dioxide and water molecules are converted to sugar and oxygen molecules is a chemical reaction.
#3. Chemical reactions enables you to store energy in your body
Cellular respiration is a vital process for living organisms, during which food (glucose) is converted into energy within cells. The energy is stored as ATP molecules, the breakdown of which powers a variety of processes occurring in our cells. There are two types of respiration: aerobic respiration, which uses oxygen and anaerobic respiration, which occurs in the absence of oxygen. In both cases, the primary purpose of respiration is to provide cells with oxygen and energy through a set of chemical chain reactions.
#4. Chemical reactions are crucial for physical activities
Fermentation is an anaerobic pathway that breaks down energy-rich carbohydrates (glucose) through glycolysis (used for energy extraction). Fermentation is nothing more than a set of chemical reactions and is of huge importance to living beings. Fermentation is so essential because it generates energy in muscles and this process is especially beneficial when your muscles cannot obtain sufficient amounts of oxygen from the blood during intense physical activities. Chemical reactions occurring during fermentation also make it possible to produce a variety of fermented foods and beverages, including bread, kimchi, kombucha, pickled vegetables, kefir, yogurt, and alcoholic drinks.
#5. Breathing is a chemical reaction
Oxidation or reduction of molecules, atoms, and ions is a chemical reaction, during which electrons are transferred between two species. Redox reactions are involved in various events that are of vital importance. Some of the most important processes that involve redox reactions are photosynthesis, respiration, combustion, corrosion, wastewater treatment, organic and inorganic synthesis, food spoilage, and quantitative analysis.
#6. Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction
Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction in which water breaks down one or more chemical bonds, leading to the formation of new substances. This is an example of a nucleophilic substitution reaction that is involved in numerous processes occurring on a daily basis. For instance, hydrolysis breaks down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into monomers after living organisms consume food. Hydrolysis is also an essential chemical reaction that facilitates the release of energy stored in ATP and ADP molecules.
#7. Chemical reactions are vital when you take a shower
Whenever you wash your hands with soap or do the dishes with a detergent, a chemical reaction occurs. Soaps are sodium or potassium salts of fatty acids containing non-polar hydrophobic hydrocarbon chains and polar hydrophilic carboxylate termini that are electrically charged. While neither water nor soap can dissolve oil particles on your hands or the dishes, soap and detergents can stick to these oil particles and easily wash away. So, what really happens when you wash your hands is that oil particles stick to the hydrophobic end of the soap and water sticks to the hydrophilic end of the soap.
#8. Cooking involves chemical reactions
While it may sound ridiculous to some of you, cooking involves a variety of chemical reactions. Whenever you mix different components or apply heat, certain chemical reactions occur. These chemical changes alter the chemical composition of the initial ingredients and are responsible for making the food taste fantastic. Chemical reactions are also involved in the rotting process. When food is exposed to light or air, its outer layer begins to spoil due to photodegradation or oxidation respectively.
#9. Chemical reactions are essential for science
Chemical reactions play a crucial role in a wide range of chemical analyses that provide chemical information about a sample. Whenever scientists want to verify the presence of a substance in a sample or want to determine how much of the analyte is present in the sample, they use chemical reactions. Some of the most common chemical reactions used in analytical chemistry include titration, flame tests, gas tests, and precipitation reactions.
#10. Chemical reactions are crucial for everyday life
Synthesizing new compounds would not be possible without chemical reactions. Organic and inorganic synthesis is essential for producing a variety of chemicals that we use on a daily basis. Active ingredients of drugs or skin care products are produced through chemical reactions. Besides, soap or detergents we use for washing hands, clothes, or dishes are also synthesized through chemical reactions.