Difference Between Ionic and Covalent Bonds (With Table)

Everything is made up of atoms and molecules, but the question is how some things are rigid while other is soft and malleable. They are bonds that hold these molecules and atoms together, and they are the reason behind different structures and sometimes properties as well. There are types of bonds, but the most common are Ionic and Covalent Bond. These are chemical bonds that are responsible for the formation of compounds or molecules. To understand the compounds, it is important to understand their bonds.

Ionic vs Covalent Bonds

The difference between Ionic and Covalent Bonds is in their hardness. Ionic bonds are comparatively hard, while the covalent bond is not hard except few, such as diamonds. Covalent bond does not react fast and is comparatively low reactive whereas ionic compounds are highly reactive. Covalent bonds are insoluble in water and polar solutions due to the absence of free electrons, while ionic bonds have free electrons making them highly soluble in water and polar solutions, a covalent bond is poor conductors of heat and electricity due to the same reason while ionic bonds in the molten state are good conductors.

An ionic bond is a type of bond where the positively charged ion of an atom gets bonded with the negatively charged ion to another atom. An example of such a bond is Sodium Chloride. They are also called electrovalent bonds. They are very strong and hardly breakable.

A covalent bond is between the same or different types of atoms; they are not strong and cannot be dissolved due to the absence of free electrons. An example of a compound with a covalent bond can be methane (CH4). Covalent bonds also have types, categorized on the basis of one, two, and three pairs of electrons are bonded.

Comparison Table Between Ionic and Covalent Bonds

Parameters of ComparisonIonic BondCovalent Bond
Species involvedInteractions of cations and anions.Interactions of neutral atoms.
StrengthStrong bondWeak bond
ShapeDefinite shapeNo definite shape
Melting pointHighLow

What is Ionic Bond?

It is a bond between metal and non-metal as a result of the transfer of electrons. This happens when one positively charged ion of atom bonds with a negatively change atom. Following are the properties of Compounds that have ionic bonds:

  1. They are hard solids: as their constituents are ions, bonded together, an electrostatic force of attraction that is very strong. Due to this reason breaking them is not easy.
  2. High melting and boiling point: the strong electromagnetic force of attraction that held the ions together is responsible for this property as well. Large and strong energy is required for separating them or overcoming the force in between.
  3. Conducting electricity: ions in the solid-state are rigid and bonded strongly; therefore, they are unable to transfer the electricity, but when boiled or molten, these ions get loosed and free to conduct the electricity. Therefore, they transfer electricity-infused and molten states.
  4. Strong electrolytes: when dissolved in water, the ions get free, and then they turned out to be strong electrolytes. And due to this, they react faster.
  5. They can dissolve in water due to free ions but dissolving them in an organic solvent cannot be dissolved as they tend to increase the electrostatic force of attraction between the ions holding them strong together.

What is Covalent Bond?

This is a bond when an atom of the same kind or different kind shares the atom. The following are the properties of a covalent bond:

  • This bonding does not create new electrons. They only share the shells with one another.
  • They exist between atoms and are very strong.
  • They contain an energy of around ~80 kilocalories per mole (kcal/mol)
  • It does not break easily but rarely once the bond is formed.
  • They have low boiling and melting point as the bond between them is not very strong, and electrons cannot be bind together.
  • They have lower enthalpies of vaporization and fusion.
  • They have lower enthalpies of vaporization and fusion.
  • They cannot be dissolved in water.

There are types of covalent bonds:

  1. Single Covalent Bond: it is when only one pair of electrons between the atoms. For representing this, (-) is used. It is most stable and weaker than other types of covalent bonds.
  2. Double Covalent Bond: it is when the atoms share two pairs of electrons. For representing this, (, =) is used. They are less stable as compared to a single covalent bond.
  3. Triple Covalent Bond: this is when the atoms share three pairs of the electron, and is represented by (≡), they are least stable.

Main Differences Between Ionic and Covalent Bonds

  1. The first difference between Ionic and a covalent bond is that both of them involved different species. Covalent bonds include the interaction of neutral bonds, while Ionic Bond is responsible for cations and anions.
  2. They differ in terms of strength; this is also one of the main differences among them. An ionic bond is a much stronger bond as compared to a covalent bond that is comparatively much weaker.
  3. Along with the strength, Covalent Bond is also low in polarity as compared to ionic bond, which is high in polarity.
  4. Both of the bonds have different shapes and structures, ionic bond does not have a proper or definite shape, whereas a covalent bond has a proper and definite shape and structure.
  5. When compared in terms of melting and boiling point, the covalent bond has a low melting and boiling point, while the boiling and melting point of an ionic bond is relatively high.
  6. If compared in their state of room temperature, covalent compounds or compounds with the covalent bond are either liquid or gaseous, whereas the compounds with the ionic bond are always solid at room temperature.
  7. The chemical bond of covalent bond occurs between non-metals, while the ionic bond happens between both metals and non-metals compounds.
  8. They also differ in terms of bond type as covalent bonds are directional, whereas ionic bonds are not directional.


Now you must have understood the bonds and their properties. Despite their all mentioned differences, they are similar in a lot of ways, such as both of them are very strong, they are primary bonds responsible for the compound formation of complex structures, they also form subtle compounds, the reaction of bonds is extremely exothermic, the resulting compound has a neutral charge, both of them are also extremely malleable, etc. it is the first thing that every chemistry studies in details, as it is the basic information about matters.

Except for them, there is also another bond called a metallic bond. This bond arises with electrostatic forces.


  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ja01846a007
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0009261495011857
  3. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1201190

2D vs 3D