Differentiate an ionic from a covalent compounds

  1. I have come to a situation that I can hardly differentiate an ionic from a covalent compounds!
    Before this confusion I had firstly known that whenever I find a compound with constituents of atoms with a very large difference in electronegativity, then i just conclude that its ionic, or when I find it in form of crystal, If it can dissolve in water the =n it is an ionic bond

    But During my thoroughly studying of bonding I found most of metals forming covalent bond and just from there I couldn't straight way tell, unless I know the compound very well and have seen it probably!!

    Take an example of AlF6, Fe2O3
    Are these ionic or covalent compounds?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Compounds(covalent+ionic)

    Welcome to the chemistry :wink:

    Not every compound can be easily classified. In the case of every bond there is some "ionicity" and some "covalenticity" - if one character prevails, we can classify the bound as either covalent or ionic, but sometimes it is not possible.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2013
  4. Re: Compounds(covalent+ionic)

    can the F and Al dissociate in water? same with Fe and O. If they can then it's ionic.
     
  5. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Compounds(covalent+ionic)

    Following this logic gaseous HCl is ionic as well. Rest assured it is not.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2013
  6. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Compounds(covalent+ionic)

    No idea what you are referring to. There is one general chemistry that is base of both chemistry and biochemistry. Sometimes definitions used in different areas of science differ, but reality is always one - HCl doesn't behave differently in chemistry or biochemistry labs.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2013
  7. alxm

    alxm 1,864
    Science Advisor

    Re: Compounds(covalent+ionic)

    There's no black-and-white of covalent/ionic, unless you're practicing 19th century chemistry.

    It's a sliding scale. Basically the amount of 'ionic' versus 'covalent' character can be quantified by the difference in the respective electronegativities of the atoms involved. For the definitive explanation of the concept, see Chapter 3 of Pauling's "The Nature of the Chemical Bond".

    He brings up AlF3 (which I think you mean?) Quoting the man:
    (He then explains that the first three are octahedral; each metal atom coordinates to a number of fluorines from another metal atom. But in SiF4, each silicon atom coordinates only to its own four fluorines, and the whole thing is held together by weak van der Waals forces between the SiF4 molecules.)


    It's good to be able to tell if a bond is more ionic or covalent in character, but a strict distinction between covalent and ionic isn't possible, and therefore not very useful.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Similar discussions for: Differentiate an ionic from a covalent compounds
Loading...