Covalent Bonds vs. Ionic Bonds

The main difference between ionic bonds and covalent bonds is sharing of electron pairs and atoms. In covalent bonds, atoms are electrostatically attracted towards each other while in ionic bonds; electron pairs are shared between atoms.

Comparison Chart

Basis of Distinction Covalent Bonds Ionic Bonds
Definition A covalent bond is a type of chemical bond that involves sharing of shared pairs or bonding pairs (electron pairs) between atoms. An Ionic bond is the type of chemical bond that involves the sharing or total give up of one or more electrons by one atom to another atom.
Occurrence Covalent bonds are the result of interaction of neutral atoms Ionic bonds are the results of the interaction between anions and cations.
Chemical Potential These are quite weak chemical bonds These are the strongest type of chemical bond.
Formation Non-metallic elements form covalent bonds Metallic elements form ionic bonds
Electrons Status Shared electrons Total transfer of electrons
The State of Matter Liquids and gasses at room temperature Solids at room temperature
Compounds Organic Inorganic
Solubility Insoluble in water Soluble in water
Shape Definite shape No definite shape
Naming Greek prefixes Roman numerals
Examples Hydro Chloric Acid and Methane Sulphuric Acid and Sodium Chloride

What is Covalent Bonds?

Covalent bonds, also known by the name of molecular bonds, are the type of chemical bonds that involves sharing of shared pairs or bonding pairs (electron pairs) between atoms. In most of the molecules, the electrons sharing allow each atom to get the equivalent of a full outer shell, corresponding to a stable electronic configuration. If atoms have similar affinity for electrons, covalent bonds are likely to occur because of the same affinity for electrons and no tendency to donate them by atoms. Atoms share electrons to get octet configuration and become more stable and stronger. Because of interactions of the sigma and pi orbitals, covalent bonds can form four type of bonds namely single, double, triple and quadruple. Oxygen atoms are the best example that requires two additional electrons to form a closed shell while hydrogen atoms need one to form a closed shell. An oxygen atom shares two of its electrons with hydrogen atoms, so the atoms of both have closed shells. This ultimately creates a water molecule.

What is Ionic Bonds?

An Ionic bond is the type of chemical bond that involves the sharing or total give up of one or more electrons by one atom to another atom. Ionic bonds are the result of those elements that readily lose electrons and those elements that gain electrons. These types of bonds do not for, molecules at all because of the interaction between charges as described Coulomb’s Law. Ionic bonds remain solid at room temperature because, during periodic lattices with billions of ions form, each ion is surrounded by many ions of opposite charge. The electrostatic attractions between the negative and positive ions hold the compound together. The overall energy during ionic bonding process is normally positive indicating that the reaction is endothermic and unfavorable. On the other hand, this reaction is favorable at the same time because of their electrostatic attraction. A common example of an ionic bond is sodium or salt. Sodium atoms quickly give electrons that result in a positive charge. Chlorine accepts these electrons and negatively charged. These two oppositely charged atoms are then attracting one another to form a sodium chloride molecule.

Key Differences

  1. In covalent bonds, electron orbitals are overlapping while these are separate in case of ionic bonds.
  2. Covalent bonds are relatively soft as compared to ionic bonds that are hard and brittle.
  3. Both metal atoms and non-metal atoms are involved in the formation of ionic bonds while in covalent bonds’ formation; only non-metals atoms are involved.
  4. Covalent bonds are formed because of sharing electrons while ionic bonds formation occurs because of transferring of electrons.
  5. Molecules are the particles in covalent bonds during compound formation while in ionic bonds these are positively charged and negatively charged ions.
  6. Covalent bonds are non-conductors while ionic bonds are conductors.
  7. Covalent bonding happens between atoms of little different in electronegativity. Ionic bonding happens between atoms of great difference in electronegativity.
  8. Ionic bonds require high melting and a boiling point in case of ionic bonding. Covalent bonds require low melting and boiling point in case of covalent bonding.
  9. Methane and Hydro Chloric Acid are common examples of a covalent Sodium Chloride and Sulphuric Acid are examples of ionic bonds.
  10. Covalent bonds have a definite shape while ionic bonds have no definite
  11. Covalent bonds have low polarity while ionic bonds have high polarity.
  12. 100% covalent molecules will dissolve in oil, but not in water while many ionic bonds have the capability to dissolve in water but not in oil.
  13. Covalent bonds are important because carbon molecules interact primarily through covalent bonding while ionic bonds are important because these allow the synthesis of specific organic compounds.
  14. Covalent bonds can be both elements and compounds while ionic bonds can be compounds only.

Video Explanation

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