Difference Between Ionic Compounds and Covalent Compounds

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


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

  1. Ionic Compounds
  2. Covalent Compounds

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

Key Takeaways

  1. Ionic compounds form through the transfer of electrons; covalent compounds form through the sharing of electrons
  2. Ionic compounds result from metal and nonmetal elements; covalent compounds involve nonmetal elements only
  3. Ionic compounds have high melting and boiling points; covalent compounds have lower melting and boiling points.

Ionic Compounds vs. Covalent Compounds

The 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 includes the ionic bond, thus forming the compound. The Covalent Compound is created by sharing the electron among the atoms to form a bond.

Ionic compounds vs Covalent compounds

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


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonIonic CompoundCovalent Compound
Compound FormationIonic Compound is formed by Transferring electronsCovalent Compound is created by sharing of electrons
StateIonic Compounds exist in the Solid-stateCovalent Compounds live 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 are mostly not soluble in water.
Electricity ConductionIonic Compounds Conduct Electricity in a Molten state and Aqueous Solution as well.Covalent Compounds do not conduct electricity in a Molten state or Aqueous Solution.


What are Ionic Compounds?

It is a chemical compound formed by transferring an 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 an 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 a solid state.

Because Ionic compounds are in solid-state, they are also soluble in water. Further, the ionic compounds are complex, 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.

Three methods prepare Ionic Compounds

  1. Evaporation
  2. Precipitation and
  3. Freezing

It is to be understood if the Ionic compounds are soluble in water, then they 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 electrons with the bonded atoms. This form of electron sharing among the particles is called a Covalent bond and, thus, a Covalent Compound.

Covalent compounds are considered to be having a powerful 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 primarily exist in the gaseous state. However, liquid and solid forms of covalent compounds are also available.

These compounds are never soluble in water and conduct no electricity in any state. This is the prime reason the intermolecular forces are weak between the atoms.

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

Covalent Bonds can still be divided into two categories

  1. Simple
  2. Giant

It is strange to note that giant Covalent Compounds may exhibit high melting and boiling point too. This behavior 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 formation methodology. One of the atoms in the bond shall lose an electron to initiate the glue 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 the Solid, Liquid, and Gaseous states.

  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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