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Difference Between Covalent and Ionic

Main Difference

Things that are not visible to the human eye always create curiosity among people. They not only want to know more about such things but also assume certain points which may not be entirely accurate but satisfy the human nature of being inquisitive. Chemistry is such a subject in which such aspects are discussed which are not there to be seen and such two terms used in this topic are Covalent and Ionic Bonds. Both of them are opposite to each other and have different properties which will be discussed in the following lines. Bonds are entities which keep two things together. To look at the differences between them, there is need to define these two terms. A covalent bond is a chemical bond which is created by the sharing of two electron pairs among atoms. Ionic bond, on the other hand, is the process of transferring of one electron to the other atom. It does not create any pairs like electrons and has the tendency of donating them to other atoms. Another difference between them is that covalent bonds have low levels of attraction with each other while ionic bonds have a high standard of appeal. The main difference is that in covalent bonds the bonding takes place between two non-metals but in ionic bonds the polarity takes place between a metal and non-metallic substance. There is no proper shape for ionic bonds because of their changing structures when they receive or donate an electron, but there is always a good form in case of covalent bonds. A covalent bond is known as a molecular bond while the ionic bond is known as electrovalent bond. Because of their irregular structures, ionic bonds have a high melting point but because there is a proper structure in covalent bonds they have a low melting point. Same is the case when talking about the boiling points of these two bonds. Another main difference between these two is that covalent bond can exist in gaseous or watery state at room temperature while ionic bonds are always in a stable state. A brief explanation of both these types of chemical bonds is given in the next two paragraphs for better understanding.

Comparison Chart

FormationFormed when electrons are joined together in the form of pairsFormed when electrons are shared from one atom to the other atom
SpeciesAlways formed between two non-metallic substancesAlways created between some metallic and non-metallic elements
StateAt room temperature it is either gas or liquidAlways solid at normal temperature

Definition of Covalent bond

A covalent bond is a chemical bond which is created by the sharing of two electron pairs among atoms. These electron pairs are known as bonding pairs because of the distribution and create equality between positive and negative forces between atoms. They have many properties such as having a definite structure which gives them the ability to have a proper look. They have a low melting point, and the boiling point is also little. These factors make them poor conductors of electricity. Mostly all the covalent bonds can be found in gas, liquid, and solid state but at room temperature they cannot exist in the stable state. Since they are paired together, there are no charges on them, and hence, they do not symbolize any polarity and are insoluble in water. The best example for covalent bonds is hydrochloric acid and methane.


Definition of Ionic bond

An Ionic bond can be explained as the process of transferring of one electron to the other atom. It does not create any pairs like electrons and has the tendency of donating them to other atoms. Usually, this process creates two charged ions which are opposite to each other. The metal becomes positive charged when it gives an electron while it becomes negative when it gains an electron. It is always formed between two metallic and non-metallic substances. Since non-metals are stronger than metals, they can quickly gain an electron from metals to complete themselves. They possess a negative charge among them while metals who donate an electron has a positive charge on them. There is an attraction between the different charged particles because of which this bonding takes place. The best examples of ionic bonds are sulfuric acid and sodium chloride. They do not have a proper shape and have high melting and boiling points because of their constructions. They are always available in the form of solids at room temperatures and are excellent conductors of electricity. Another feature is that they are soluble in water.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. Covalent bonds are formed when electrons are joined together in the form of pairs while ionic bonds are formed when electrons are shared from one atom to the other atom.
  2. Covalent bonds are always formed between two non-metallic substances. Ionic bonds are always created between some metallic and non-metallic elements.
  3. The state of the covalent bond at room temperature is either in gas or liquid. The state of an ionic bond is always solid at normal temperature.
  4. Covalent bonds have a low melting and boiling point while Ionic bonds have a higher melting and boiling points.
  5. Covalent bonds have low polarity while ionic bonds are more prone to attraction among electrons.
  6. There is always a particular structure in covalent bonds while ionic bonds lack any proper shape.
  7. The best example of Ionic bonds will be Sodium Chloride while the best case of covalent bonds will be Hydrochloric acid.
  8. Covalent bonds are poor conductors of electricity while ionic bonds conduct electricity when they are being melted.
  9. Ionic bonds are soluble in water but insoluble in other liquids while covalent bonds are not soluble in water but soluble in non polar liquids.


Chemistry can be a tough subject to understand and the terms involved in them can become a headache for people who do not have much idea about the subject. Bonds are an important factor and therefore have been explained here properly so that a clear understanding can be developed and hopefully this article would have helped in that.

Comparison Video

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Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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