Free software to Draw Chemical Structures and Chemical Reaction Schemes

Drawing chemical structure with online tools is very easy and quick. Most of them actually developed for finding chemical properties from its chemical structure. But it allows us to download the chemical structures as an image. Thus, we can use the image for scientific reports, presentations and etc. However, this tool offers very limited functionalities. In fact, we cannot save our work if we want to continue drawing the structure at a later date. Here I shared with you the best free software for drawing chemical structures. Most of them have great features, allow styling, and even can be used for drawing chemical reaction schemes.

MarvinSketch

MarvinSketch is free software for non-profit activities or non-commercial use. It means college students and teachers can use this software. MarvinSketch supports Windows, OS, and Linux in both 32bit and 64 bit. The software is developed and licensed by ChemAxon, a leading software provider for chemistry and biology.

Drawing chemical structures using MarvinSketch is very easy. The structures are very neat. You can clean up the structure in 2-D and 3-D. The page has a grid that helps us to straight-aligned the chemical structure. Moreover, the structure can be formatted to our liking. The atoms, functional groups, and bonds can be styled with different colors, sizes, and font types. However, the structure in the 3-D view does not look good. But it is a very useful function to get a rough idea of how the bond arranged in 3-D. With MarvinSketch, you can draw a chemical reaction scheme as well.

Drawing Chemical Structures with Marvin Sketch
Figure: Chemical Structure Drew using MarvinSketch
Drawing Chemical Reaction Schemes with Marvin Sketch
Figure: Chemical reaction scheme drew using MarvinSketch

MarvinSketch offers plenty of features such as HNMR prediction, the aqueous solubility of the compound, pKa value, isoelectric point, partition coefficient (log P), charge, electronegativity, finding isomers and etc. However, you need to get the commercial license for unlocking its full features. The personal license is sufficient for students, teachers, and researchers. It could be obtained on their website and only valid for 3 months. The good news is Marvin allows us for renewing the personal license once expired.

ChemSketch

ACD/ChemSketch is a freeware software for drawing chemical structures and drawing chemical reaction schemes. The software is developed by ACDLabs. They offer free installation for academic use and paid version for commercial use. ChemSketch with academic license is a lifesaver for students and academia for drawing chemical structure and chemical reaction scheme.

You can draw a neat and beautiful chemical structure and chemical reaction scheme with ChemSketch. The page has a dotted grid view which helps to keep the structure align properly as we wanted. We can snap the bond or line on the grid as well. The structures can be cleaned in 2-D to get a better and balanced view. Besides that, we can style the structure with different colors of the atom and the bond. To make thing easier for publication purposes, they have prebuilt styles which met requirements by various scientific journals. Hence, I recommend ChemSketch to draw chemical structures or chemical reaction schemes for preparing a manuscript to be published in scientific journals or books. However, the features are limited in the freeware version.

Drawing Chemical Structure with ChemSketch
Figure: Chemical structure drew using ChemSketch
Reaction Scheme - Biodiesel Synthesis
Figure: Chemical reaction scheme drew using ChemSketch