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How Many Types of Chemical Reactions Are There?

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It's a good idea to memorize the main types of chemical reactions.

It's a good idea to memorize the main types of chemical reactions.

Steve McAlister, Getty Images

Question: How Many Types of Chemical Reactions Are There?

There is more than one way to classify chemical reactions, so you may be asked to name the 4, 5, or 6 main types of chemical reactions. Here is a look at the main types of chemical reactions, with links to detailed information about the different types.

Answer: When you get right down to it, there are millions of known chemical reactions! As an organic chemist or chemical engineer, you might need to know the details about a very specific type of chemical reaction, but most reactions can be grouped into just a few categories. The problem is determining how many categories this is! Typically, chemical reactions are grouped according to the main 4 types of reaction, 5 types of reactions, or 6 types of reactions. Here is the usual classification:

4 Main Types of Chemical Reactions

The four main types of chemical reactions are fairly clear-cut, however, there are different names for the reaction categories. It's a good idea to become familiar with the various names so that you can identify a reaction and communicate with people who may have learned it under a different name.
  1. synthesis reaction (also known as direct combination reaction)

     

  2. decomposition reaction (sometimes called an analysis reaction)

     

  3. single displacement reaction (also called a single replacement reaction or substitution reaction)

     

  4. double displacement reaction (also called a double replacement reaction or metathesis reaction)

5 Main Types of Chemical Reactions

You simply add one more category: the combustion reaction. The alternate names listed above still apply.
  1. synthesis reaction
  2. decomposition reaction
  3. single displacement reaction
  4. double displacement reaction
  5. combustion reaction

6 Main Types of Chemical Reactions

The sixth type of chemical reaction is an acid-base reaction.
  1. synthesis reaction
  2. decomposition reaction
  3. single displacement reaction
  4. double displacement reaction
  5. combustion reaction
  6. acid-base reaction

Other Major Categories

Other main categories of chemical reactions include oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions, isomerization reactions, and hydrolysis reactions.

 

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