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Ionic Compounds vs. Molecular Compounds: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 4, 2023
Ionic compounds form from ions via electrostatic attraction; molecular compounds form from covalently bonded atoms.

Key Differences

Ionic compounds are formed when positively charged cations and negatively charged anions come together through electrostatic attraction. These compounds typically form between metals and nonmetals. Molecular compounds, on the other hand, are made of atoms that share electrons through covalent bonds, generally between two nonmetals.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
In ionic compounds, the high difference in electronegativity between the combining atoms leads to the transfer of electrons, forming ions. These compounds often have high melting and boiling points. Molecular compounds are formed when atoms share electrons to complete their octet, leading to generally lower melting and boiling points.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
Ionic compounds in solid form typically conduct electricity when melted or dissolved in water because their ions are free to move. Molecular compounds, in contrast, usually don't conduct electricity in any state since they don't have free-moving ions.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
Ionic compounds often form crystalline structures called lattices. Their strong ionic bonds result in certain geometric patterns. Molecular compounds usually lack such regular patterns due to the nature of their covalent bonds.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
In terms of solubility, ionic compounds usually dissolve well in polar solvents like water, as water molecules can surround and separate the ions. Molecular compounds, depending on their polarity, may or may not dissolve well in water.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Type of Bond

Electrostatic attraction between ions
Covalent bonds between atoms
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Conductivity

Conduct when melted or dissolved
Generally don't conduct
Huma Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Formation

Between metals and nonmetals
Typically between nonmetals
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Oct 04, 2023

Melting/Boiling Points

High
Lower than ionic
Janet White
Oct 04, 2023

Structure

Crystalline lattice
Lacks regular patterns
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023
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Ionic Compounds and Molecular Compounds Definitions

Ionic Compounds

Typically soluble in polar solvents like water.
Lithium chloride (LiCl) dissolves well in water due to its ionic nature.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Molecular Compounds

Chemical entities with generally lower melting and boiling points than ionic compounds.
Methane (CH₄) is a molecular compound.
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Oct 04, 2023

Ionic Compounds

Chemical entities with high melting and boiling points due to strong ionic bonds.
Calcium fluoride (CaF₂) is an ionic compound.
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Oct 04, 2023

Molecular Compounds

They lack the crystalline lattice structure found in ionic compounds.
Ammonia (NH₃) is a molecular compound.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023

Ionic Compounds

Compounds formed from the electrostatic attraction between cations and anions.
Sodium chloride (NaCl) is an ionic compound.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Molecular Compounds

Compounds formed by sharing electrons through covalent bonds.
Water (H₂O) is a molecular compound.
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Oct 04, 2023

Ionic Compounds

They form crystalline structures when in solid state.
Potassium bromide (KBr) is an ionic compound.
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Oct 04, 2023

Molecular Compounds

Substances composed of atoms from nonmetals.
Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is a molecular compound.
Huma Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Ionic Compounds

Substances resulting from the transfer of electrons from one atom to another.
Magnesium oxide (MgO) is an ionic compound.
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Oct 04, 2023

Molecular Compounds

Their solubility in water varies depending on their polarity.
Methanol (CH₃OH) is a molecular compound soluble in water.
Sara Rehman
Oct 04, 2023

FAQs

How do molecular compounds form?

Molecular compounds form from covalently bonded atoms.
Huma Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Do molecular compounds conduct electricity?

Generally, molecular compounds don't conduct electricity.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Can ionic compounds conduct electricity?

Yes, ionic compounds can conduct when melted or dissolved.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Which has higher melting points, ionic or molecular compounds?

Ionic compounds generally have higher melting points.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023

Between which elements do ionic compounds usually form?

Ionic compounds usually form between metals and nonmetals.
Janet White
Oct 04, 2023

Which elements typically form molecular compounds?

Molecular compounds are typically formed between nonmetals.
Sara Rehman
Oct 04, 2023

How are the structures of ionic compounds usually described?

Ionic compounds form crystalline lattices.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Are ionic compounds typically soluble in water?

Yes, many ionic compounds are soluble in water.
Sara Rehman
Oct 04, 2023

How do molecular compounds typically appear structurally?

Molecular compounds lack regular patterns.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023

Do all molecular compounds dissolve in water?

No, the solubility of molecular compounds varies.
Harlon Moss
Oct 04, 2023

Can you give an example of an ionic compound?

Sodium chloride (NaCl) is an example of an ionic compound.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Can you give an example of a molecular compound?

Methane (CH₄) is an example of a molecular compound.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Why do ionic compounds have high boiling points?

Due to strong ionic bonds and the resulting lattice structure.
Janet White
Oct 04, 2023

Are all molecular compounds gases?

No, molecular compounds can be gases, liquids, or solids.
Harlon Moss
Oct 04, 2023

Which type of compound is water?

Water is a molecular compound.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023

What forms the basis of ionic compounds?

Ionic compounds are based on electrostatic attraction between cations and anions.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Which compound involves the transfer of electrons?

Ionic compounds involve the transfer of electrons.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

What is the primary bond in molecular compounds?

Covalent bonds are primary in molecular compounds.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023

How do you differentiate between ionic and molecular compounds based on conductivity?

Ionic compounds conduct when melted or dissolved, molecular compounds generally don't.
Sara Rehman
Oct 04, 2023

Are molecular compounds always between two different elements?

No, they can also be between the same elements, like O₂.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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