Difference Between Ionic vs Covalent Bonds

Difference Between Ionic vs Covalent Bonds

Today is all about exploring the difference between ionic and covalent compounds so that you can understand their very precise individuality. This will provide total enlightenment on what is a very confusing subject for some people.

This can seem like a muddled comparison at first glance, but luckily, there are some easy to understand fundamentals that allow us to separate the two once we know about them. We’ll now dive deeper into the world of these two compounds and shed some light on why they vary from each other.

Definition of Ionic Bonds

An ionic bond is: “Ionic bonds link atoms featuring positive and negative charges together in conjunction with attached electron pairs.”

Precisely how and why these two atoms would link or “bond” together like this is all a result of something called electronegativity and how much the individual atoms that form part of the bond itself possess. Initially, the included atoms carried their own properties and were neither positive or negative.

What lead to their nature changing was their unique electronegativity rating. Some atoms have a higher electron capacity than others. This has a consequential impact on bond outcome. Should this higher rating exist with any atom included in the bond, then the associated electrons attached to the weaker half will then link themselves to the stronger component. The end result is two atoms featuring separate (positive and negative) charges.

This is the underpinning difference between ionic and covalent bonds because “normal” covalent natured relationships feature harmonious electron attachments, but here they synchronise with one atom only.

Definition of Covalent Bonds

A covalent bond is: “A compound whereas two atoms have bonded together, along with their attached electron pairs.”

Realistically, it would be very hard to find two atoms with an identical electronegativity rating, but an ionic bond only forms when one of the atoms features a significantly higher rating than the other. In other words, they have to be massively out of sync for this to happen.

When two atoms have a compatible rating, this leads to them bonding in such a way that they share the same orientation. Interestingly, you also need the presence of a metal to create an ionic bond, but covalent varieties require a total lack of it.

This is precisely what leads to the stark contrast in electron capacity that we witness when observing ionic link formulation. Because one of the included molecules is so much denser and stronger than the other, this immediately creates imbalance, thus ensuing the different atom charges.

It probably seemed a little confusing at first glance, but at its core, the covalent bond vs ionic bond debate simply boils down to compatibility. Incompatibly rated atoms establish ionic relationships but compatible ones create covalent bonds. It’s all about relationship dynamics!

Main Differences Between Ionic vs. Covalent Bonds

To make drawing comparison between ionic vs covalent bonds a little easier, we’re now going to lay out a quick reference table for you to glance over their unique properties quickly any time you require a refresh on this widely debated subject.

Basis of ComparisonIonicCovalent
Atom natureA singular positive and negative respectivelyBoth neutrally charged
Orientation of the atoms Orientation of each atom differsLinked atoms display the same orientation
Atom electron ratingsOne atom has a much higher rating than the otherComparatively similar ratings
Molecule typeOne molecule is always necessarily a metal to create this type of bondNeither molecule is a metal in this instance
Typical shapeNo definable shapeHas a definitive shape

The above contrasting features help us to easily sum up the areas where ionic vs covalent bonds vary.

Difference Between Ionic and Covalent Bonds: Conclusion

Now that you’ve read through today’s post, you should now have a firmer grasp of the contrasting elements between these two bond varieties. Though they seem similar upon first inspection, further analysis of their structure reveals two very varied natures, just remember, one bond can only form between two nonmetals and another requires the presence of metal. This fact alone can easily distinguish one from the other.