Difference Between Ionic Compounds and Covalent Compounds

A chemical substance is formed by a composition of many identical molecules. This is known as Chemical Compound.

Ideally, two different elements of the atoms are required to form a chemical compound. There are 2 types of chemical compounds available, they are

  1. Ionic Compounds
  2. Covalent Compounds

Every compound mentioned above has its own chemical bonding among the molecules. The Ionic and Covalent compounds form the fundamental of all the other compounds existing in the world of Chemistry.

Ionic Compounds vs Covalent Compounds

The main difference between Ionic Compounds and Covalent Compounds is their formation. The Ionic Compound is formed when there is a big difference in the electronegativity of the atoms, where the less electronegative atom loses an electron while the other gains it. It forms the ionic bond thus forming the compound. The Covalent Compound is formed by sharing the electron among the atoms to form a bond.

Ionic compounds vs Covalent compounds

Ionic compounds are generally classified as Bases. They contain hydroxide or oxide. Covalent Compounds are considered to have a very strong bond among the molecules.


Comparison Table Between Ionic Compounds and Covalent Compounds (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonIonic CompoundCovalent Compound
Compound FormationIonic Compound is formed by Transferring of electronsCovalent Compound is formed by sharing of electrons
StateIonic Compounds exist in the Solid-stateCovalent Compounds exist in all three states; solid, liquid and gaseous.
Melting and Boiling PointIonic Compounds have high Melting as well as Boiling PointsCovalent Compounds have low Melting as well as Boiling Points
Soluble NatureIonic Compounds are soluble in water.Covalent Compounds mostly are not soluble in water.
Electricity ConductionIonic Compounds Conduct Electricity in Molten state and Aqueous Solution as well.Covalent Compounds do not conduct electricity in Molten state as well as in Aqueous Solution


What are Ionic Compounds?

It is a type of a chemical compound formed by transferring the electron from one atom to another. The transfer happens from the low electronegative atom to the higher electronegative atom.

This forms an ionic bond and hence ionic compound. The ionic compound is neutral, but It has two types of ions in it.

  1. Cation: These are Positively charged Ions
  2. Anion: These are the Negatively charged Ions

The type of formation and its bond makes the ionic compounds possess very high melting and boiling points. More importantly, they are in the solid-state.

Because Ionic compounds are in solid-state, they are also soluble in water. Further, the ionic compounds are hard and a few are brittle too.

In the solid-state, ionic compounds are not observed to conduct electricity. However, the ions start moving once it is molten or liquidized.  They conduct electricity even when they are dissolved in water.

Ionic Compounds are prepared by three methods

  1. Evaporation
  2. Precipitation and
  3. Freezing

It is to be understood, if the Ionic compounds are soluble in water, then it can also be evaporated to make a solid Ionic compound again.

ionic compounds 1

What are Covalent Compounds?

It is a chemical compound formed by sharing the electrons with the bonded atoms. This form of sharing the electron among the atoms is called Covalent bond and thus a Covalent Compound.

Covalent compounds are considered to be having a very strong Intra-molecular bond. At the same time, very little energy is required to separate the molecules too.

The Covalent compounds have relatively very low melting and boiling points. They mostly exist in the gaseous state, however liquid and solid states of covalent compounds are also available.

These compounds are never soluble in water and also do not conduct any electricity in any state. This is the prime reason, the intermolecular forces are weak between the atoms.

Covalent Bond normally happens between two non-metallic atoms. The best example of Covalent Compound is the water.

Covalent Bonds can still be divided into two categories

  1. Simple
  2. Giant

It is strange to note, the giant Covalent Compounds may exhibit high melting and boiling point too. This behaviour is majorly attributed to the high intermolecular attraction.

covalent compounds

Main Differences Between Ionic Compounds and Covalent Compounds

  1. The main difference between the Ionic and Covalent Compounds is the methodology of formation. One of the atoms in the bond shall lose an electron to initiate the bond to form an ionic compound while the Covalent compound is formed by sharing the electrons among the atoms.
  2. The Ionic Compounds exist in the solid-state while Covalent Compounds exist in Solid, Liquid and Gaseous state.



Understanding the Compounds is one way of gaining knowledge. But the knowledge must go beyond learning the differences between these two. The Ionic compounds are available in the toothpaste we use daily.

Understanding the real-life usage offers greater knowledge than knowing the technical aspect of it. Knowing the useful and hazardous substances which we call it as Ionic or Covalent gives greater knowledge.


  1. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.2956594
  2. http://www.lifesci.sussex.ac.uk/research/fluorine/p5qsp3l/Teaching/chem_533/MLX.pdf
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