From Water to Sunlight: The Raw Materials for Photosynthesis

What are the Raw Materials for Photosynthesis

Animals get their energy from consuming food such as meat and vegetables; then it is converted into energy for our body as we digest the food. Have you ever wondered where plants get their energy from? Turns out that plants make their food by taking in raw materials, and the process is called photosynthesis. And the ability to make their own food is a sign of plants being sentient.

This must have left you wondering, what are the raw materials for photosynthesis? They are water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide. Here, we will be discussing the details of photosynthesis, and its importance. So, let us take a quick dive into the world of botany and get answers to our questions!

What Are the Raw Materials for Photosynthesis?

What are the Raw Materials for Photosynthesis

Let us clear out your primary concern first. Plants only require 3 raw materials for photosynthesis and they are sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. Humans usually don’t need to give the plants any of these raw materials, except if you have house plants you will need to give them their supply of water. 

Carbon Dioxide’s Role in Photosynthesis

Carbon Dioxide’s Role in Photosynthesis

Carbon dioxide is an essential raw material during photosynthesis. Through the process of photosynthesis, the plant creates glucose molecules, and the carbon dioxide molecules are reduced to glucose molecules. 

This means that carbon dioxide has the role of taking electrons from the electron source to help form the glucose molecules. Thus, Carbon dioxide is the oxidizing agent in photosynthesis. Furthermore, the carbon from this compound is used to make glucose. 

It should also be noted that carbon dioxide has an important job during the light-independent phase of photosynthesis. 

Sunlight’s Role in Photosynthesis

Sunlight’s Role in Photosynthesis

Most plants require a decent amount of exposure to sunlight because it is a very important material for photosynthesis, and without it, plants would not be able to survive. Plants absorb sunlight that shines on them and use the energy they catch from the sunlight to carry out the reaction between water and carbon dioxide to produce simple sugars like glucose. 

Sunlight plays an essential role in photosynthesis, and this can be seen when plants do not get proper exposure to sunlight. In the case where a plant gets insufficient sunlight, the rate of photosynthesis will decrease, and plants will have less energy to grow. The absence of sunlight for long periods will cause the plant to die. 

Water’s Role in Photosynthesis

Water’s Role in Photosynthesis

Water is the second raw material that participates in a chemical reaction inside the plant during photosynthesis. As we have said before, water reacts with carbon dioxide to produce glucose. We will show you the chemical equation for photosynthesis further ahead in the article when we discuss the process of photosynthesis in detail. 

During the range of biochemical reactions, water acts as the reducing agent as it acts as a source of electrons. The electrons donated by the water molecules result in the binding of the H atom, which also comes from water and the carbon from carbon dioxide. The oxygen in water molecules (H2O), is released into the atmosphere during photosynthesis as oxygen gas. 

Another way in which water acts as the reducing agent is when it gives away H+ ions to turn NADP into NADPH. NADPH is an essential reducing agent that is needed in the chloroplasts of plant cells. 

What are the Sources of the Raw Materials?

Sources of the Raw Materials

The first stage of photosynthesis is when all the raw materials are absorbed by the plant. So, you must know all the sources of light, water, and carbon dioxide. 

Source of Carbon Dioxide

Firstly, let’s take a look at the sources of carbon dioxide. As you must know, our atmosphere contains carbon dioxide. Although it is not a large percentage (0.04% to be exact), our atmosphere still acts as the primary source of Carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. 

You might not have known this, but plants also absorb a very small portion of the carbon dioxide for photosynthesis from the ground. Aquatic plants, on the other hand get carbon dioxide in the form of bicarbonates. 

Source of Water

There could be many sources of water; for example, the plant could get water from rainfall, a person may regularly water the plant, etc. However, to give a broader answer for what the source of water is we will have to say soil. This is because the plant absorbs water from the soil regardless of how the water gets into the soil. 

Source of Sunlight

We think we don’t need to elaborate much on what the source of sunlight is because the answer is in the title! Most plants get light energy from the sun. Some indoor houseplants are exceptions to this case because some plants get their light from different types of artificial lights. 

The Process of Photosynthesis

Process of Photosynthesis

Before we say anything, let’s take a look at what photosynthesis means.  Photosynthesis happens when green plants convert sunlight into energy that can be used by the plant as food. The plant needs carbon dioxide, and water for completing the process. 

Taking in All the Raw Materials

Now, how do they obtain these raw materials? By osmosis, water travels into the root hair cells of the plant, and then through the uptake of water, the water is transported to all the places that are required. 

As you have seen, most plants tend to have a green pigment. This is because of a molecule called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is present in organelles called chloroplasts which are found most abundantly in leaf cells. As sunlight shines directly onto the leaves, the chlorophylls capture the light energy. Blue and red light are mostly absorbed, and green light is reflected away. 

If you put a leaf under the microscope, you will see many tiny pores on its surface, and they are called stomata. As you know, carbon dioxide is taken in from the atmosphere. So, the stomatal pore opens and closes depending on when the plant inhales and exhales. The opening and closing of the stomata are done by guard cells.


Now that we have looked at how the raw materials are obtained, let’s see how they react. We have said initially that sunlight provides the energy for the reaction between carbon dioxide and water to happen. The chlorophyll traps light energy and converts it into chemical energy, which is then used for some reactions during photosynthesis. ATP and NADPH are forms of chemical energy. 

The reactions that take place to convert the light energy to ATP and NADPH are called light-dependent reactions. Similarly, the reactions that take place in the absence of light are known as light-independent reactions. Light-independent reactions form the Calvin cycle. 

In the Calvin cycle, the chemical energy from the sunlight is used to create simple sugars such as glucose from carbon dioxide and water. In the photosynthesis equation, 6 molecules of carbon dioxide combine with 6 molecules of oxygen to produce 1 molecule of glucose and 6 molecules of oxygen. 

The photosynthesis equation:

6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2

What Products Does Photosynthesis Produce?

Many products are produced in the reactions during photosynthesis, but only the direct products are our concern. From the photosynthesis equation above, you can already see what the direct products are: glucose and oxygen. 

Glucose which is a sugar and a carbohydrate, is then broken down into other compounds to give the plant the required energy. These products are indirect products. The oxygen produced is released into the atmosphere as the plant exhales. 

Why Photosynthesis is Vital for Plants?

It is without a doubt that we can say that plants cannot survive without photosynthesizing. This is the only source of food for most plants, carnivorous plants being the exception. The glucose that is produced from this process is then broken to give energy to the plant so it can carry out its regular life functions. Furthermore, glucose is also stored in the plant as starch.

Related Posts:

What Is Plant Embryo? Everything You Need to Know

Do Plant Cells Have Ribosomes? Role & Importance

Do Plant Cells Have Cytoplasm? Find The Answer Now

Do Plant Cells Have Chloroplasts? Everything You Need to Know

What Does a Stem Do For A Plant? Learn About Functions of Plant Stems

Final Words

Photosynthesis is a fascinating process. The way that the plant obtains all the raw materials and then various reactions take place in the correct order for glucose to be produced seems magical and interesting. 

Mohammed Rujel

Over the Years, I have gained a lot of experience in different aspects of gardening. I actively learned about plants and how to care for them, and also have a lot of experience in dealing with pests and diseases. My expertise is on teaching how to grow healthy plants and make them look their best.

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