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(c) Use the Evidence you gathered in this experiment to answer the Question
(classify each of the substances as ionic or molecular).

(d) Do you have confidence in your observations? Do you feel that they can be
used to accurately classify the substances? Explain.
(e) Compare your answer from the Analysis with the answer in your
Hypothesis/Prediction (question (a)). How do you account for any

(f) Were you able to accurately predict the properties of the substances based
on your initial classification? Why or why not?
(g) What assumptions are being made in this investigation?

Electrolytes and Classification

When table salt (sodium chloride), NaCl(s), dissolves in water it forms a solution
that conducts electricity: It is an electrolyte, and dissolving it forms an elec-
trolytic solution. Sodium chloride is a typical ionic compound: Its solution con-
ducts electricity. Sugar will also dissolve in water. However, the sugar solution
will not conduct electricity, so sugar is a nonelectrolyte. It is a typical molecular
compound: Its solution with water does not conduct electricity. In Unit 3, you
will learn more about conductivity and solutions. You will also find out more
about molecular acids: important exceptions to the rule that molecular solutions
do not conduct electricity.

Understanding Concepts
1. What types of elements combine to form
(a) an ionic compound?
(b) a molecular compound?
Table 1: Observations of Five
Unknown Compounds 2. Briefly describe a diagnostic test for an ionic compound, and give a
theoretical explanation for that test.
Compound State at Conductivity
SATP of solution Applying Inquiry Skills
A solid yes 3. A student hypothesizes that an unknown substance is composed of
B liquid no positive and negative ions held together by the attraction of their
opposite charges. Design an experiment that would allow the student
C gas yes
to test this hypothesis.
D solid yes
4. Use the evidence in Table 1 to classify each of the five compounds as
E solid no ionic or molecular. Provide your reasoning for each classification.

2.2 Ionic Bonding

When sodium (a metal) is put in a vessel containing chlorine (a nonmetal), the
two elements combine enthusiastically to form the compound sodium chloride,

68 Chapter 2

a substance that you have classified as ionic, as it is an electrolyte. Like some other
ionic compounds that you are familiar with, for example, baking soda (sodium
hydrogen carbonate) and chalk (calcium carbonate), it is also brittle and has a
high melting temperature. How do we explain the formation and properties of
this compound?
You will recall, from Chapter 1, that atomic theory describes electrons
moving about the nucleus of the atom in energy levels, and that the electrons in
the outermost energy level are called the valence electrons. It is the valence elec-
trons of an atom that form chemical bonds. chemical bond: the forces of attraction
According to atomic theory, ionic compounds are formed when one or more holding atoms or ions together
valence electrons are transferred from a metal atom to a nonmetal atom. This
leaves the metal atom as a positive ion, or cation, and the nonmetal atom as a ionic bond: the electrostatic attraction
negative ion, or anion. The two oppositely charged ions are attracted to each between positive and negative ions in a com-
other by a force called an ionic bond (Figure 1). pound; a type of chemical bond

+ –

Na Cl Na Cl
Figure 1
An electron is transferred from sodium to
chlorine in the formation of an ionic bond.

Explaining the Properties of Ionic Compounds

Ionic compounds have similar properties: They are solids at SATP with high
melting points, and they are electrolytes. We can hypothesize that these proper-
ties might be the result of the bonds formed between the ions, holding them
firmly in a rigid structure.
Although they are composed of ions, pure ionic compounds are electrically
neutral. Therefore, the sum total of the electrical charges on all the ions must be
zero. Ionic compounds are made up of a fixed proportion of positive and negative
ions. Consequently, ionic compounds can only be identified in terms of the
smallest unit of the compound, known as a formula unit, that would still have the formula unit: the simplest whole-number
properties of the compound. In the case of sodium chloride, the sodium and chlo- ratio of atoms or ions of the elements in an
ride ions are present in a 1:1 ratio, as indicated by its chemical formula, NaCl. ionic compound
The anions and cations in an ionic compound are locked in a regular struc-
ture, held by the balance of attractive bonds and electrical repulsion. The most
common model of ions shows them as spheres arranged in a regular three-
dimensional pattern called a crystal lattice (Figure 2, page 70). We can actually crystal lattice: a regular, ordered arrange-
see the shape of sodium chloride crystals—an observation that supports our ment of atoms, ions, or molecules
crystal lattice model. We often see similar structures in bridges or scaffolding
where struts are joined one to the other in a repeating pattern.
Not all crystal lattices are square, like that of sodium chloride. Depending on
the sizes and charges of the ions that make up the substance, the crystal lattice
varies in structure. All lattices are arranged so that each ion has the greatest pos-
sible number of oppositely charged ions close, while keeping ions with the same
charge as far away as possible. In all cases, each ion is surrounded by ions of
opposite charge. In theory, this arrangement of ions creates strong attractions.
This theory is supported by empirical evidence such as the hard surfaces and
high melting and boiling points of ionic solids.

Chemical Bonding 69
It requires a great deal of energy to break the strong electrostatic attractions
within a crystal lattice. The ions resist any movement, as even a slight shift would
cause positive ions to move closer to other positive ions, and negative ions closer
to other negative ions, resulting in strong repulsion. We can use this model to
explain why ionic substances are hard (the ions resist movement), and also why
they are often brittle. Once the lattice is broken, repulsions between ions of the
same charge will cause the substance to split into two crystals.
Finally, our model of the structure of ionic compounds can also explain the
electrical conductivity of their solutions. When ionic compounds are dissolved
in water, the positive and negative ions dissociate:
NaCl(s) → Na+(aq) + Cl–(aq)
The ions are responsible for carrying current when charged electrodes are
placed in the ionic solution.
The Formation of Ionic Compounds
We classify most simple compounds containing metallic elements as ionic.
(b) Elements within a chemical family (group) tend to participate in similar chem-
ical reactions, producing ionic compounds with the same general formula. For
example, the metals in Groups 13 to 15, except mercury, will form ionic oxides
(compounds composed of a metal and oxygen) when burned in air. In the same
way, elements in Groups 1 and 2 form ionic compounds with oxygen: The oxides
formed by Group 1 elements have the general formula M2O while those of
Group 2 elements (e.g., magnesium oxide, MgO) have the general formula MO,
where M represents a metal ion. Because of its high melting point, magnesium
oxide is used to make objects that are exposed to very high temperatures, such as
crucibles, furnace linings, and thermal insulation.
From our discussion of trends in electronegativity, it makes sense that Group 1
metals readily react with the elements in Group 17 to form ionic compounds
with the general formula MX. These compounds, which are composed of a metal
Figure 2 and a halogen, are collectively referred to as ionic halides. Sodium chloride, an
(a) The cubic structure of table salt crystals example of an ionic halide, is found in large underground deposits in various
provides a clue about the internal struc- parts of the world. It is mined from these deposits and used as road salt, table salt,
ture of sodium chloride. and as a reactant in many industrial processes.
(b) The arrangement of sodium and chlorine The elements in Group 2 show a similar trend, as they also react with the
ions in a crystal of sodium chloride. The halogens to produce ionic halides with the general formula MX2.
sodium and chloride ions occupy positions
In general, the addition of a metal from Group 1 or Group 2 to water will
in the crystal lattice known as lattice
points. produce hydrogen gas and a basic ionic compound. Calcium hydroxide,
Ca(OH)2, is an example of an ionic compound that can be produced in this way.
However, the reaction of calcium and water is quite vigorous. A safer means of
producing this ionic compound is to react calcium oxide with water. Calcium
hydroxide is also referred to as slaked lime and is used to make mortar and
plaster for buildings.

Predicting Common Ions of Atoms

Noble gases are stable and virtually inert. Similarly, ions with eight valence elec-
trons appear to have a special stability. This arrangement of electrons is known
stable octet: a full shell of eight electrons as a stable octet. To reach this stable state, metal atoms of elements in Groups 1,
in the outer energy level of an atom 2, and 3 will lose electrons to form cations, while elements in Groups 15, 16, and
17 will gain electrons to form anions. By looking at an element’s position in the
periodic table, we can predict the charge on that element’s most stable ion. For

70 Chapter 2

example, we can predict that a Group 1 element will tend to lose one electron,
becoming a cation with a charge of 1+. A Group 16 element, on the other hand,
will tend to gain two electrons to complete a stable octet, so it will form an anion
with a charge of 2–.
Hydrogen is a special case in that, theoretically, it can either give up an elec-
tron to form H+, which is equivalent to a proton, or gain an electron to form H,
which has a filled shell like the noble gas helium.

Understanding Concepts
1. What properties of ionic compounds suggest that ionic bonds are
2. What types of elements form ionic bonds with each other?
3. Which of the representative elements tend to form positive ions?
Which tend to form negative ions?
4. What is the minimum number of different ions in the formula of an
ionic compound? Explain.
5. Predict the charge on the most stable ion formed by each of the fol-
lowing elements. Indicate the ion by writing the symbol complete
with charge.
(a) sulfur
(b) barium
(c) bromine
(d) chlorine
(e) calcium
(f) potassium
(g) phosphorus
(h) rubidium
(i) beryllium

Applying Inquiry Skills

6. You have already discovered that solutions of ionic compounds in
water conduct electricity. You might wonder about the conductivity of
pure ionic compounds. Table 1: 12 Most Common Elements
(a) Design an experiment to investigate the conductivity of an ionic in the Human Body
solid. With your teacher’s approval, conduct your investigation. Element Percentage by
(b) Research the conductivity of molten (liquid) ionic compounds. mass
(c) Assemble your findings into a report on the conductivity of ionic
oxygen 65
compounds in various states.
(d) Propose a hypothesis for the properties you observe. carbon 19
hydrogen 9.5
nitrogen 3.2
Ions and the Human Body calcium 1.5
Among the 12 elements that make up more than 99% of the human body (Table 1) phosphorus 1.0
are five metals: calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and iron. These five sulfur 0.3
metals, which form positively charged ions in solution, are essential for main-
chlorine 0.2
taining good health. For example, Mg2+, Na+, and K+ are major constituents of
sodium 0.2
blood plasma. Ca2+ is vital in the formation of bones and teeth. In addition to
positively charged ions, some elements that form negatively charged ions are also magnesium 0.1
essential for life. Chloride ions, Cl, are another component of blood, and iodide iodine <0.1
ions, I, are required to prevent a condition called goitre, which results in the iron <0.1
enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Chemical Bonding 71
Making Connections
7. Research and report upon the importance of one of the ions that
make up the human body. Your report should include: a description of
its biological importance; recommended daily minimum require-
ments; the effects of deficiency or excess on the human body; and
some of the naturally occurring sources. Conclude your report with a
discussion on whether, and under what circumstances, you would
recommend that someone should artificially supplement his/her
intake of this ion.
Follow the links for Nelson Chemistry 11, 2.2.
GO TO www.science.nelson.com

Representing Ionic Bonds

We generally find it easier to grasp a new concept if we have a model or mental
image. An American chemist, G. N. Lewis, obviously thought the same thing, and
developed a model of the valence (bonding) electrons of single atoms or
electron dot diagram or Lewis monatomic ions. He represented his models on paper as electron dot diagrams,
symbol: a representation of an atom or or Lewis symbols. These symbols consist of the chemical symbol for the element
ion, made up of the chemical symbol and plus dots representing the number of valence electrons. For example, a sodium
dots indicating the number of electrons in the
atom would be represented as
valence energy level
The convention for indicating more electrons is as follows:
Li Be B C N O F Ne
These diagrams can help us to represent the process of ion formation.
Electron dot diagrams also illustrate the theory that ionic bonds tend to pro-
duce full outer orbits of electrons: a configuration exactly the same as that of the
noble gases. Sodium has one valence electron. By transferring this electron to
another entity that has a stronger attraction for the electron, the resulting
sodium ion will have the same electron configuration as neon.
Na Na + e
A chlorine atom has seven valence electrons. By attracting an electron from
another entity, the resulting chloride ion will have eight electrons in its valence
shell and the same number of electrons as its nearest noble gas, argon.
Representative elements around Groups 13 and 14 of the periodic table can
also achieve this special stability without losing or gaining electrons, as you will
discover later in the chapter.
Cl + e Cl (compare with Ar )
Another way to describe the process of forming ionic compounds is to say
that electron transfers result from the large difference in electronegativity between
metals and nonmetals. Nonmetals have a strong tendency to gain electrons and
metals do not. When an atom of low electronegativity, such as a metal atom, and
an atom of high electronegativity, such as a nonmetal atom, are in proximity, one
or more electrons are transferred from the atom with low electronegativity, trans-
forming both atoms into ions. The metal ion will be positive and the nonmetal
ion will be negative. The resulting oppositely charged ions attract each other and
other ions, forming ionic bonds and resulting in a crystal lattice.

72 Chapter 2

Using electron dot diagrams, we can show the formation of an ionic bond
between sodium and chlorine.
Na + Cl Na Cl

When illustrating the formation of an ionic bond, we place square brackets

around the ion to indicate that the charge is not associated with any particular
electron and that all the electrons in the valence shell are equivalent.
We can use the periodic table and electron dot diagrams to predict the for-
mulas of other ionic compounds. By finding out how many electrons they tend
to lose or gain to reach stable octets, we can figure out what ratio of ions will
make an electrically neutral compound.
As an example, suppose we were asked to draw electron dot diagrams to
illustrate the formation of calcium fluoride, state the ratio of ions in the com-
pound, and give the formula for the compound. Calcium is in Group 2, so will
form an ion with a charge of 2+. Fluorine is in Group 17, so will form an ion with
a charge of 1.
Ca 2 F F Ca F
To form an electrically neutral ionic compound, the ratio of calcium to fluoride
ions is 1:2. The formula is CaF2.

Sample Problem
Draw electron dot diagrams to illustrate the formation of magnesium oxide.
Write the ion ratio and the chemical formula.

2 2
Mg O Mg O

The two elements will combine in a ratio of 1:1. The formula is MgO.

Understanding Concepts
8. (a) How do the electron dot diagrams of metal ions differ from those
of nonmetal ions?
(b) How are the electron dot diagrams of metal ions similar to those
of nonmetal ions?
9. Use electron dot diagrams to illustrate the formation of
(a) lithium iodide
(b) barium chloride
(c) potassium oxide
(d) calcium fluoride
10. Represent each of the following elements using electron dot dia-
(a) nitrogen
(b) sulfur
(c) argon
(d) iodine
(e) lithium
(f) cesium
(g) calcium
(h) sodium

Chemical Bonding 73
11. Use electron dot diagrams to determine the ratio in which oxygen
will combine with each of the following elements to form an ionic
compound. Label each diagram with the chemical formula of the
(a) calcium
(b) rubidium
(c) strontium
(d) aluminum
12. Represent the five halogens, using electron dot diagrams. How are
these diagrams consistent with the concept of a chemical family?
13. Explain, referring to stable octets, how the following ionic com-
pounds are formed from pairs of elements; illustrate the formation of
each compound with electron dot diagrams; and predict the formula
of each compound.
(a) magnesium chloride
(b) sodium sulfide
(c) aluminum oxide (bauxite)
(d) barium chloride
(e) calcium fluoride (fluorite)
(f) sodium iodide
(g) potassium chloride (a substitute for table salt)
14. Give the common names for the following chemicals:
(a) sodium bicarbonate
(b) NaCl
(c) calcium carbonate
(d) Ca(OH)2

Sections 2.1–2.2 Questions

Understanding Concepts
1. Use the concepts of periodic trends and electronegativity to
explain why ionic compounds are abundant in nature.
2. Give a theoretical reason why lithium and oxygen combine in the
ratio 2:1.
3. How are the topics of ion formation and periodic trends related?
4. Give the correct chemical (IUPAC) names for the following chemi-
(a) chalk
(b) slaked lime
(c) road salt
(d) baking soda
5. A Group 1 metal (atomic number 55) is reacted with the most
reactive of the halogens. A very vigorous reaction results in the
formation of a solid, white compound.
(a) Represent the formation of the compound with electron dot
(b) Write the formula of the compound formed.
(c) What type of compound is formed?
(d) Predict the physical properties of the resulting white com-
(e) Explain the properties of the compound in terms of the
bonds formed.
(f) Provide a theoretical explanation for the vigorous reaction.

74 Chapter 2