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How to Find Chemical Compounds


When looking for information on chemical compounds, the first place to look is usually in one of several Handbooks:

  1. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (QC65.C5, behind the CIRC. Desk)
    Contains information on the most frequently encountered organic and inorganic compounds. Data is presented, for the most part, in table format. Two major tables are included in every edition: Physical Constants of Chemical Compounds, and Physical Constants of Inorganic Compounds. Chemicals are listed in inverted form in these tables.

  2. Merck Index (RS356.M43 behind the CIRC Desk)
    Coverage in Merck is stronger for organic compounds. The entries are arranged alphabetically by compound. Be sure to use the index in the back to find your compound as synonyms are not cross-referenced in the body of the book. Entries give the following information:
  3. Aldrich Fine Chemicals (TP202.A428, behind the CIRD Desk) While more a catalog than a handbook, in addition to prices, Aldrich lists properties for both organic and inorganic compounds. It includes some structure diagrams. Entries are alphabetically arranged by non-inverted form of name. There is a molecular formular index, but no compound name index.

II. Dictionaries

If your compound cannot be found in a handbook, the next place to try is in one of the multi-volume Dictionaries. These dictionaries contain much of the same information, but because of their size, they cover many more compounds. The Dictionaries are arranged alphabetically by compound name. Because many compound are known by more than one name, it is easiest if you use the index. There are several indexes for each set, e.g.: Name Index, Molecular Formular Index, Structure Index, and CAS Registry Number Index.

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