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At standard temperature and pressure, it resists all but the strongest oxidizers.It does not react with sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, chlorine or any alkalis.The most common oxidation state of carbon in inorganic compounds is 4, while 2 is found in carbon monoxide and transition metal carbonyl complexes.The largest sources of inorganic carbon are limestones, dolomites and carbon dioxide, but significant quantities occur in organic deposits of coal, peat, oil, and methane clathrates.
This exothermic reaction is used in the iron and steel industry to smelt iron and to control the carbon content of steel: Carbon combines with some metals at high temperatures to form metallic carbides, such as the iron carbide cementite in steel, and tungsten carbide, widely used as an abrasive and for making hard tips for cutting tools.
Although thermodynamically prone to oxidation, carbon resists oxidation more effectively than elements such as iron and copper that are weaker reducing agents at room temperature.
Carbon is the sixth element, with a ground-state electron configuration of 1s, of which the four outer electrons are valence electrons.
At normal pressures, carbon takes the form of graphite, in which each atom is bonded trigonally to three others in a plane composed of fused hexagonal rings, just like those in aromatic hydrocarbons.
The resulting network is 2-dimensional, and the resulting flat sheets are stacked and loosely bonded through weak van der Waals forces.