Inorganic chemistry is the study of the synthesis and behavior of inorganic and organometallic compounds. This field covers all chemical compounds except the myriad organic compounds (carbon based compounds, usually containing C-H bonds), which are the subjects of organic chemistry. The distinction between the two disciplines is far from absolute, and there is much overlap, most importantly in the sub-discipline of organometallic chemistry. It has applications in every aspect of the chemical industry–including catalysis, materials science, pigments, surfactants, coatings, medicine, fuel, and agriculture. 
Many inorganic compounds are ionic compounds, consisting of cations and anions joined by ionic bonding. Examples of salts (which are ionic compounds) are magnesium chloride MgCl2, which consists of magnesium cations Mg2+ and chloride anions Cl−; or sodium oxide Na2O, which consists of sodium cations Na+ and oxide anions O2−. In any salt, the proportions of the ions are such that the electric charges cancel out, so that the bulk compound is electrically neutral. The ions are described by their oxidation state and their ease of formation can be inferred from the ionization potential (for cations) or from the electron affinity (anions) of the parent elements.
Important classes of inorganic salts are the oxides, the carbonates, the sulfates and the halides. Many inorganic compounds are characterized by high melting points. Inorganic salts typically are poor conductors in the solid state. Other important features include their solubility in water(see: solubility chart) and ease of crystallization. Where some salts (e.g., NaCl) are very soluble in water, others (e.g., SiO2) are not.
The simplest inorganic reaction is double displacement when in mixing of two salts the ions are swapped without a change in oxidation state. In redox reactions one reactant, the oxidant, lowers its oxidation state and another reactant, the reductant, has its oxidation state increased. The net result is an exchange of electrons. Electron exchange can occur indirectly as well, e.g., in batteries, a key concept in electrochemistry.
When one reactant contains hydrogen atoms, a reaction can take place by exchanging protons in acid-base chemistry. In a more general definition, an acid can be any chemical species capable of binding to electron pairs is called a Lewis acid; conversely any molecule that tends to donate an electron pair is referred to as a Lewis base. As a refinement of acid-base interactions, the HSAB theory takes into account polarizability and size of ions.
Inorganic compounds are found in nature as minerals. Soil may contain iron sulfide as pyrite or calcium sulfate as gypsum. Inorganic compounds are also found multitasking as biomolecules: as electrolytes (sodium chloride), in energy storage (ATP) or in construction (the polyphosphate backbone in DNA).
The first important man-made inorganic compound was ammonium nitrate for soil fertilization through the Haber process. Inorganic compounds are synthesized for use as catalysts such as vanadium(V) oxide and titanium(III) chloride, or as reagents in organic chemistry such as lithium aluminium hydride.
Subdivisions of inorganic chemistry are organometallic chemistry, cluster chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry. These fields are active areas of research in inorganic chemistry, aimed toward new catalysts, superconductors, and therapies.
Industrial inorganic chemistry
Inorganic chemistry is a highly practical area of science. Traditionally, the scale of a nation's economy could be evaluated by their productivity of sulfuric acid. The top 20 inorganic chemicals manufactured in Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, and the US (2005 data): aluminium sulfate, ammonia, ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, carbon black, chlorine, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen, hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphoric acid, sodium carbonate, sodium chlorate, sodium hydroxide, sodium silicate, sodium sulfate, sulfuric acid, and titanium dioxide.
The manufacturing of fertilizers is another practical application of industrial inorganic chemistry.
Descriptive inorganic chemistry
Descriptive inorganic chemistry focuses on the classification of compounds based on their properties. Partly the classification focuses on the position in the periodic table of the heaviest element (the element with the highest atomic weight) in the compound, partly by grouping compounds by their structural similarities. When studying inorganic compounds, one often encounters parts of the different classes of inorganic chemistry (an organometallic compound is characterized by its coordination chemistry, and may show interesting solid state properties).
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