Elements are substances that cannot be separated into simpler substances. Salt is made up of the elements sodium and chloride. Water is made up of the elements hydrogen and oxygen. The smallest particles of matter are called atoms. Remember the carrot from the other chapter. If you continue to chop a carrot into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually you would reach a point where you could not cut up the carrot anymore, but still have carrot. You would then have molecules of carrot. The same applies to elements. If you continually cut up a piece of aluminum, you will reach a point that you could no longer divide it. These are aluminum atoms. An atom is the smallest particle of an element that has the properties of that element. Some properties of aluminum are: shiny, silver colored, fragile, and thin. Each element has its own type of properties.
A compound is a substance formed when two or more elements are chemically joined. Water, salt, and sugar are examples of compounds. When the elements are joined, the atoms lose their individual properties and have different properties from the elements they are composed of. A chemical formula is used a quick way to show the composition of compounds. Letters, numbers, and symbols are used to represent elements and the number of elements in each compound.