Why don't covalent compounds have ions?


Any bond between two elements has a certain covalent character or some ionic character. When the ionic character is much greater, the compound is said to be ionic and vice versa. An example of an ionic compound is common salt or $\ce{NaCl}$ while diamond is a covalent compound formed by carbon atoms which are $\mathrm{sp^3}$ hybridised. When covalent character is high, electrons mostly occupy the bonding orbital between the two nuclei. The electrons are said to be more in a "shared" state. In ionic compounds like $\ce{NaCl}$ , $\ce{Na}$ almost gives its electron due to high metallic character and $\ce{Cl}$ almost accepts due to high electronegativity. In such case, much positive charge is found on $\ce{Na}$ while high negative charge is found on chlorine. In diamond, however no charge is found on carbon (although in a molecule like $\ce{HCl}$, $\delta-$ charge is found on $\ce{Cl}$ and $\delta+$ on $\ce{H}$ due to electronegativity difference).


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L. Mutal
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L. Mutal

Updated on November 23, 2022


  • L. Mutal
    L. Mutal 6 months

    When a covalent bond is formed, elements gain shared electrons. Wouldn't this mean covalent compounds contain ions? According to BBC and other sources they don't have any ions at all... How is this so?

    • Ivan Neretin
      Ivan Neretin over 2 years
      Covalent compounds don't have ions because otherwise they would be classified as ionic and not as covalent. It is as simple as that.
  • Apoorv Potnis
    Apoorv Potnis almost 7 years
    It is difficult to understand what do you want to ask.