11 Different Types of Chemical Reactions

Every second of every day, chemical reactions occur around us. Whether they occur naturally or artificially is beside the point.

Every time our body takes in air, chemical reactions occur. Every second a mining plant operates, chemical reactions occur.

The thing is, these chemical reactions are so small, that they go by relatively unnoticed. Below is a list of the most common kinds of chemical reactions that occur around us.

Types of Chemical Reactions

1. Decomposition Reactions

Decomposition takes place when elements of a substance are broken down or taken apart. The broken down components may be basic elements, or some other compound.

For example, when water is broken down, the separated components are hydrogen and oxygen. Sugar, on the other hand can be broken down into water, which is a chemical compound, and carbon, which is a basic element.

2. Synthesis Reactions

The exact opposite of decomposition reactions are synthesis reactions. Whereas decomposition breaks down chemical compounds, synthesis reactions form chemical compounds.

Using our earlier samples, if oxygen and hydrogen were placed together, they form water. If carbon and water are placed together, we get sugar. In various diets, the way protein is synthesized plays are large role in weight loss or increasing muscle mass.

3. Single Displacement Reactions

The term, “Single”, in single displacement reactions, means that a single element or compound, replaces another element or compound. In the manufacturing of steel, a type of coal named ‘coke’, is used as a substitute for iron.

This displacement of an old element or compound, for a new element or compound, results in a new chemical composition or product. Single displacement reactions are also known as Single Replacement or Substitution reactions.

4. Double Displacement Reactions

When two substances exchange ions, a double displacement reaction occurs. An example best explains this reaction. Think of product AB and product CD. A, and C, are the positive charges for both products. B, and D, are the negative charges.

In a double displacement reaction, AB becomes AD, while CD become CB. Hence, AB and CD to AD and CB. With this reaction, two old products are replaced with two, new products.

As a side note, the negative charge is called anions while the positive charge is known as cations. Double displacement reactions are also called as Metathesis or Double Replacement reactions.

5. Combustion Reactions

This reaction occurs when things burn. On a molecular level, heat is formed when hydrogen and oxygen atoms split apart. This is also a form of combustion. Combustion reactions are exothermic, meaning they produce energy.

If wood is to burn, oxygen and heat are necessary catalysts to form a reaction. The byproduct of burning is usually carbon, for organic materials at least. Inorganic materials burn and produce byproducts differently.

6. Neutralization Reactions

This is what happens when you take antacids to neutralize or control the acidity in your stomach. In neutralization reactions, the reactants, or the acid and the antacid in our example, chemically react to produce water or salt; not table salt.


In chemical reactions, salt is a byproduct of a neutralization reaction. Neutralization reactions are also named Acid Base reactions.

7. Oxidation – Reduction Reactions

Commonly known as ‘redox’ in the scientific community, oxidation – reduction reactions indicate the increase (oxidation) or loss (reduction) of electrons, in so far as oxidation numbers are concerned.

Basically speaking, oxidation is an increase in the oxidation state, or the gain of oxygen, or the loss of hydrogen. Reduction is the decrease of the oxidized state, or loss of oxygen, or an increase in hydrogen.

As an adjunct, some oxidation – reduction reactions, like covalent bonding, do not cause the loss of electrons.

8. Precipitation Reactions

This type of chemical reaction occurs when two liquids are combined. The reaction must result in the formation of a solid byproduct. The solid byproduct is known as the precipitate.

A kidney stone is a good example of a precipitation reaction. It forms when calcium ions and oxalates interact. The precipitate left in the aftermath of the reaction are kidney stones.

Related: Types of Cell Junctions

9. Isomerization Reactions

This is the type of chemical reaction that changes the properties of a substance, but retains its chemical composition. Common lighter fluid, or butane, has a boiling point of 0.5°C, and a freezing point at 138.3°C.

When heated at 100°C together with a catalyst, the boiling point and freezing point of lighter fluid changes to 11.7°C and 159. °C, respectively. The new product is called Isobutane.

See Also: Different Types of Math Equations

10. Hydrolysis Reactions

Chemical reactions that occur with water are known as hydrolysis reactions. This happens when a molecule of the original product is divided in two.

The divided parts adhere to a molecule of water. In normal world conditions, hydrolysis reactions rarely happen. Catalysts like acids must be used to induce a hydrolysis reaction.

11. Organic Reactions

Organic reactions are those chemical reactions that happen to organic substances. Thus, organic reactions can occur through synthesis, combustion, displacement, and decomposition.

Just remember that when the different types of chemical reactions take place, energy is required as a catalyst, and then energy is subsequently released.

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