Difference Between Anion vs Cation

Difference Between Anion vs Cation

Everything you see (and cannot see) can occupy space, and as such, is referred to as matter. Leucippus was a Greek philosopher who is believed to be the one behind the idea that all matter is made of tiny indissoluble substances referred to as atoms. These particles are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but when placed under a proper microscope, it reveals other properties.

In this piece, we will discuss the properties of matter as it has to do with the difference between cation vs anion.  These two terms refer to the electric charge of the atom of an element. A particle with an electric charge is referred to as an ion. The charge it carries can either be negative or positive. This charge goes on to affect the attraction that exists between them and the intensity of the attraction.

Definition of Anion

An anion is simply expressed as an ion that carries a negative charge. This is attributed to the fact that it has more electrons (negatively charged particles) than protons (positively charged particles).

The term is said to have originated from the Greek term “ano,” which means “up.” Every chemical substance under this category can only be formed when one or more electron is gained from another atom that has a low affinity.

This can be seen in the case of chlorine.Chlorine gains one electron and is expressed as the negative superscript right after the symbol. Another instance is the case of oxygen, which is expressed as O2- – this means that the oxygen atom gains two electrons.

In other words, if the negative sign does not have a number attached to it, then it means that the chemical symbol has one less proton than the total number of electrons. If the sign comes with a number, then that is how many less protons there is compared to the total number of electrons in the atom. When chemical substances of opposite electric charge encounter each other, they are readily attracted to one another, causing them to come together to form a bond. These bonds are referred to as ionic bonds.

Definition of Cation

A cation is defined as an ion that carries a positive charge. What type of charge an ion has is the biggest difference between anion and cation. A positively charged particle usually has a greater number of protons than electrons. The term is derived from the Greek word “kata,” which translates to “down” in English. Atoms classified under this category of ion can lose one or more electrons depending on the number attached to the charge sign.

Some examples include silver Ag+, which can lose one electron to attain a stable state. Zinc, also noted as Zn2+, has two less electrons than the total number of protons in the element. During the process of electrolysis, positively charged ions are attracted to cathodes because of their electric charge. All cations are formed by metal atoms.

Main Differences Between Anion vs Cation

Now, here is a graphic representation of anion vs cation for an easier understanding at a glance. But before we go into that, here is something that can help.

Basis of ComparisonAnionCation
DefinitionAn ion that carries a negative chargeAn ion that carries a positive charge
Electron numberMore electrons than protonsMore protons than electrons
Attraction during electrolysisAnodeCathode
Type of chemical substanceNon-metalMetal
ExamplesChloride (Cl-), Bromide (Br-), Sulfate (SO42-)Sodium (Na+), Iron (Fe2+), Ammonium (NH4+)

Difference Between Anion and Cation: Conclusion

There is so much more to be said about the difference between cation and anion, but with this much information, you have the basics of ions and their electronic charges. Every ion is charged, but they do not all have the same type of electric charges attached to them.

Understanding this would help you make more sense of the periodic table. This also helps us to understand that opposite sides attract and that non-metals can be attracted to metal.