What is the difference between ionic and covalent compounds?


Quick Answer

Ionic compounds are formed when electrons are transferred from one atom to another, while covalent compounds are formed when both atoms share their electrons, resulting in no loss or gain of electrons for either atom, according to HyperPhysics. The atoms of covalent bonds are bound more tightly and form more stable molecules when compared to the atoms of ionic bonds, which show attraction to other nearby atoms.

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Full Answer

Chemsite explains that an ionic bond forms when an electron is transferred from a metal to a non-metal, where the electronegativity is much higher in one atom than the other. A covalent bond forms when two non-metals transfer an electron to each other, where the electronegativity is similar between them, so neither atom gains or loses an electron. Ionic compounds have much higher melting and boiling points than covalent compounds, due to their strong force of attraction, states HyperPhysics. Ionic compounds are crystalline solids made of ions, whereas covalent compounds are made of molecules and can be a gas, liquid or solid. HyperPhysics describes covalent compounds as poor electrical conductors in all phases, while ionic compounds are good conductors when melted. About.Chemistry provides examples of covalent compounds: hydrogen chloride and carbon dioxide; and examples of ionic compounds: sodium bromide and potassium chloride.

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