Major Differences Between Ionic and Covalent Compounds People Ignore

Filed in Articles by on May 29, 2021

Difference Between Ionic and Covalent Compounds: Compounds are defined as substances containing two or more different chemical elements. 

Ionic compound is compounds formed by ions bonding together through electrostatic forces. They are molecules that consist of charged ions. A covalent compound is a molecule formed by covalent bonds, in which the atoms share one or more pairs of valence electrons.

These distinct chemical elements are bonded together by one of two types of bonds – ionic bonds and covalent bonds.

Ionic Compounds

Ionic bonding occurs when there is a large difference in electronegativity between two atoms. This large difference leads to the loss of an electron from the less electronegative atom and the gain of that electron by the more electronegative atom, resulting in two ions.

These oppositely charged ions feel an attraction to each other, and this electrostatic attraction constitutes an ionic bond. Ionic bonding occurs between a nonmetal, which acts as an electron acceptor, and a metal, which acts as an electron donor.

Metals have few valence electrons, whereas nonmetals have closer to eight valence electrons; to easily satisfy the octet rule, the nonmetal will accept an electron donated by the metal. More than one electron can be donated and received in an ionic bond. Some examples of compounds with ionic bonding include NaCl, KI, MgCl2.

Covalent Compounds

Covalent compounds have strong intra-molecular bonds. This is due to the presence of covalent molecules. Each molecule is indeed quite separate and the force of attraction between the individual molecules in a covalent compound tends to be weak.

Covalent bonding was first described by American physical chemist Gilbert N. Lewis in 1916. In his description, Gilbert didn’t give a name to the concept. American chemist Irving Langmuir first used the term covalence in reference to bonding in a 1919 article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Covalent compounds generally result from two nonmetals reacting with each other. The elements form a compound by sharing electrons, resulting in an electrically neutral molecule. The solid covalent compounds have soft structures like graphite.

These compounds have low boiling points. This can be attributed to their weak force of attraction between the various bonded atoms. Van Der Waals forces bind these atoms.

The Major Distinctions

1. Ionic compounds are formed by the transfer of electrons that are positively and negatively charged, whereas, covalent compounds are formed by sharing the electrons.

2. The melting and boiling points of ionic compounds are much higher compared to those of the covalent compounds.

3. Most ionic compounds are hard and crystal-like, while covalent compounds are softer and more flexible.

4. Ionic compounds are more soluble in water than covalent compounds.

5. Generally, ionic compounds are the good conductor of electricity, whereas covalent compounds are the bad conductor of electricity.

6. Ionic compounds have a definite shape while covalent has no shape.

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CSN Team.

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