What's the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide?

July 31, 2008

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, toxic gas that has the molecular formula CO. The molecule consists of a carbon atom that is triply bonded to an oxygen atom.  Carbon monoxide is a commercially important chemical. It is also formed in many chemical reactions and in the thermal or incomplete decomposition of many organic materials. 

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless, faintly acidic-tasting, and nonflammable gas at room temperature. Solid carbon dioxide, also known by the trade name Dry Ice, sublimes (converts directly from a solid to a gas) at -78 °C (-109V) or above.  Carbon dioxide is a molecular solid with a molecular formula CO2.  The linear molecule consists of a carbon atom that is doubly bonded to two oxygen atoms, O=C=O. 

IMPORTANT: Although both gases are common products of combustion, DO NOT confuse non-toxic carbon dioxide with poisonous, deadly carbon monoxide.