Organic materials are associated with the chemistry of compounds
of carbons. Often times organic materials are often thought of
as the byproducts living things-plants or animals. While carbon
compounds are generally thought to be produced in living things,
it was discovered in the nineteenth century that carbon compounds
could be synthesized in the laboratory. This discovery opened
a whole new door to the discovery of new useful products such
as vulcanized rubber and plastic. Organic materials include those
products from plants, animals, as well as various plastics.
Animal products may be divided into four types of materials:
dermal, keratinous, skeletal, and other.
Dermal materials are the most common animal products used and
are identified as leather or skin. Keratinous materials include
silk, wool, hair, feathers, and horn. Bone, ivory, teeth, and
shell are categorized as skeletal materials. Other animal products
include albumins and caseins.
Leather/skin, derived from the dermal layers of animals, is a relatively strong, flexible material used
for a variety of purposes. Animal hides have been used for clothing,
book bindings, parchment, belts, and shoes.
Animal products that are primarily keratinous are outgrowths
of the dermal (skin) layer. These
materials are strong and flexible, easily shaped by heat and
pressure. Included are horn, baleen, quill, hooves, hair, and
claws. Items made of keratinous materials include clothing decoration,
adornments, combs, and baskets.
Bone, antler, ivory, teeth, and shell are skeletal materials and are highly inorganic with some organic elements
like hydroxyapatite and collagen. These products are anisotropic
(respond differently in different directions to the same stimulus)
and very strong. In order to fabricate something from bone, antler,
ivory, or teeth, the material must be carved, sawed, turned,
Another material not listed is stone, a purely inorganic material
found in nature. Stone is a crystalline mineral or a range of
compositions and is used to make jewelry, utensils, weapons,
sculpture, and architectural elements.