Difference Between Ionic and Covalent

Science in our daily life contains a lot of aspects. Everything we see by our naked eyes is formed by billions of atoms and molecules. Sometimes a question occurs about how these atoms join with each other and form such giant objects. Chemistry is the branch of science that answers this question for us.  

In the language of Chemistry, the process by which atoms come into each other contact and form objects is called chemical bonding. Two major types of this binding are- Ionic Bond and Covalent Bond. While these two denote the formation of compounds, they can be differentiated easily.  

Ionic vs Covalent 

The main difference between Ionic and Covalent is that while both of these are chemical bonding processes, the former refers to the bonding in which an atom attracts those atoms which are opposite to its attraction force. While the latter refers to a bonding in which two non-metals share their electrons equally without one having to lose its electrons. 

Ionic vs Covalent

Ionic bonding refers to a chemical process precisely in which two ions that are charged in an opposite manner join with each other to form a compound. In this process, the ion with a weak charge gets dissolved in the one having a strong charge. This process mostly occurs between the ions of metals and non-metals because both of these having opposite charges.  

While on the other side, Covalent bonding occurs between nonmetals precisely. It does not require attraction between opposite ions but rather a bonding between equally charged ions. It never causes the loss and gain of electrons in bonds but distributes the electrons equally. Unlike other bonds, this exists in all three forms of matter.  

Comparison Table Between Ionic and Covalent 

Parameters of Comparison  Ionic  Covalent 
Meaning  It a chemical bonding process takes place between ions having opposite attraction charge. It is a chemical bonding process that takes place between ions having compatibility of sharing electrons. 
Occurs Between  Metals and nonmetals. Nonmetals  
State  It exists only in the solid position. It exists in solid, gas, and liquid, all three states.  
Melting Point This bond melts at a very high melting point. This bond melts at a comparatively low melting point. 
Boiling point  This bond melts at a very high boiling point. This bond melts at a very low melting point. 
Conduction of Electricity These bonds can conduct electricity. These bonds cannot conduct electricity. 
Availability  Less common More common  
Formed due to When two oppositely charged ions that are compatible with one another join together, this bond is created. It results in the loss of electrons by one and the gain of electrons by the other. This bond is not based upon the transfer of electrons but the sharing of electrons rather. It does not cause any loss or gain of electrons in any of the joining ions.   

What is Ionic? 

Ionic refers to the process of chemical bonding or joining of two atoms in order to give birth to a new compound or object. This is the process widely taking place in the whole world between multiple atoms and ions.  

In this process, two atoms come together at one place, and the requirement is that these two should have a different and opposite electric charge in them to finalize this process. These atoms stabilize each other in terms of electrons.  

One atom that has a positive charge is popularly known as metal. It donates some of its electrons to the other atom, which contains a negative charge and is termed nonmetal. This process stabilizes the number of electrons in both atoms, which as a result, creates a new compound. 

A popular example given of this bond is table salt. It is made up of sodium and chlorine– 

  • Sodium contains 11 protons and 11 electrons. One electron of this atom is present in its outer cycle, and it carries a positive charge.  
  • Chlorine contains 17 protons and 17 electrons and has a negative charge. 
  • After bonding, sodium donates its outer electron to Chlorine.  

What is Covalent? 

Covalent is just another important process of chemical bonding that takes place to form new compounds and substances. It is different from other bonding processes because for this to happen, it is important for the ions to have a similar electro charge.  

It does not need a positive and negative charge in the participating atoms, and that is why it only joins nonmetals (atoms having a negative charge). It is not based upon the transfer of electrons, and these electrons don’t get dissolved after being shared. Rather it focuses on mutual sharing.  

A very famous example of this bond is Hydrogen Chloride (HCl) 

  • Here the Chlorine has 7 atoms in its outer perimeter  
  • while Hydrogen has 1 Electron. 
  • These two react together and combine into a perfectly balanced molecule.  

Main Differences Between Ionic and Covalent 

  1. Ionic bond takes birth due to the transfer of electrons, while Covalent takes birth due to sharing of electrons.  
  2. Ionic can conduct electricity while Covalent cannot do so. 
  3. Ionic takes place between metals and nonmetals having opposite charges, while Covalent takes place between nonmetals only.  
  4. Ionic contains a high melting and boiling level, while Covalent has a low boiling and melting peak.  
  5. Ionic can be seen only in solid-state, while Covalent can be seen in all three states of matter.  
  6. Ionic is less likely to take place and is not very common, while Covalent has a high possibility to take place and is very common. 


Chemical bonding is a very crucial and important process in the field of chemistry or says science. This causes the formation of multiple compounds and substances at the end. This process consists of many complications as the sharing and transfer of electrons and ions is done within this process.  

Ionic and Covalent are two sub-sections of this umbrella term, bonding. These two bonds differ from each other in terms of their appearance, formation, chemical properties, and many more things. To understand the formation of multiple objects, it is important to have known the difference between the two.  


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408437108243425
  2. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0953-8984/11/30/309/meta
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