Difference Between Graphite and Carbon (With Table)

Science is everywhere. We can see it in our food we eat, in the air we breathe, the water we drink, etc. It is the study of everything around us. As we can see, there are a lot of things around us having different properties. Graphite and Carbon are two similar things but still differ from each other in various aspects.

Graphite vs Carbon

The difference between Graphite and Carbon is that Graphite is an allotrope of carbon that means it is carbon. Chemically it is carbon, but its physical properties make it different from carbon. And carbon is just an element having atomic number 6.

Graphite is an allotrope of carbon, which means it is chemically the same as carbon, it is completely made up of only carbon atoms, but its physical structure is different. Its unique physical structure is different that makes it different from conventional carbon elements.

Carbon is one of the important elements among 118 known elements. It is an element having atomic number six. It is the basic element of most of the compounds, and every living thing must have carbon compounds in them. It is studied separately due to its importance and vastness. The study of carbon and its compounds is known as organic chemistry.

Comparison Table Between Graphite and Carbon

Parameters of ComparisonGraphite Carbon
Meaning Graphite is an allotrope of carbon.Carbon is one of the elements among the 118 known elements.
Etymology Graphite is made from the Greek word graphein, which means ‘to-write.’Carbon is made from the Latin word carbo, which means Charcoal.
Structure Graphite has a hexagonal layer lattice structure.Carbon does not have any fixed or particular structure.
Occurrence Graphite occurs only in one form that is a particular structure of carbon atoms.Carbon occurs in various forms, which results in millions of compounds of carbon.
UseGraphite has limited uses like coolant and lubricant.Carbon has many uses in various forms like crude oil, nutrients, etc.

What is Graphite?

Graphite is an allotrope of carbon. Carbon has many forms and structures. Graphite is the crystalline structure of the carbon atoms. It is believed to be older than our solar system, it is the second or third oldest mineral of this universe, and it is used by human beings for thousands and lakhs of year for various purposes.

In graphite, one carbon atom is bonded with three other carbon atoms using a covalent bond. It forms a hexagonal layer of carbon atoms, layer by layer, it forms a crystal structure. It has a metal grey or blackish color with a very soft texture. It is the softest material. That’s why it is used as a lubricant.

It occurs in different forms naturally. For example, Amorphous Graphite, Lump Graphite, Highly ordered pyrolytic graphite, Crystalline Graphite are some examples of different forms of graphite. It can also be prepared artificially that looks completely like natural graphite.

It is anisotropic and feels greasy when touched. It also conducts electricity. These useful properties of Graphite make it useful in making electrodes, lubricants, insulators, etc., and the most common use of Graphite we can see in our pencils. It is mined using open pits or underground methods for making it available for different uses.

What is Carbon?

Carbon is the sixth element of the modern periodic table. It belongs to the second period and fourteenth group of the periodic table. It is denoted by C, and its atomic number is 6. The atomic mass of one carbon atom is 12u. It has three isotopes C-12, C-13, and C-14.

Carbon gets its name from its Latin name ‘carbo,’ which means coal. 

It forms million of compounds because of its tetravalent and catenation property. These vast amounts of compounds are studied in different groups. The most common group in which carbon compounds are divided are Organic compounds and Inorganic compounds.

After Hydrogen, Helium, and Oxygen, it is the most abundant element in the whole universe. The property of Carbon is dependent on its different allotropes; for example, Graphite, an allotrope of Carbon, is the softest material, whereas another allotrope of carbon known as diamond is the hardest material ever known.

All living things are made up of carbon; hence it is an important element for all possible life anywhere. Other than living things, it is important in many ways. It is a major part of fuels like methane and crude oil. These things make carbon a versatile and important element among all.

Main Differences Between Graphite and Carbon

  1. Graphite and Carbon both are chemically the same, but the physical structure makes them different. Graphite has a hexagonal structure, but carbon can be found in various structures.
  2. Graphite is found in only various forms of Graphite. On the other hand, Carbon has different forms like a diamond, graphite, etc.
  3. Graphite is made from the Greek word graphein, which means ‘to write,’ whereas Carbon is made from the Latin word ‘Carbo,’ which means Charcoal.
  4. Graphite is very smooth and conducts electricity, but the properties of carbon are dependent upon the different allotropes it forms.
  5. Graphite is used as a lubricant in pencils, electrodes, etc. on the other hand, Carbon has many uses because of its many allotropes.


Chemistry can be interesting if we try to understand the importance and uniqueness of all the elements. Every element has unique properties that make them different. There are hundreds of different elements, and even one element can be found in hundred different forms that make chemistry a vast subject to study.

Carbon is an element having million of compounds and many allotropes. Graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It can be burnt completely to form carbon-di-oxide, which proves that it is carbon. And carbon is the sixth element of the modern periodic table. It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe and the second most abundant element in the human body. Hence, carbon is the most important element of all.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775301006711
  2. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.ms.03.080173.001211
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