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Ionic Compound Properties

Properties and Characteristics of Ionic Compounds

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Ionic compounds like sodium chloride form crystals.

This is the three-dimensional ionic structure of sodium chloride or table salt. Sodium chloride forms cubic crystals.

Ben Mills
Here are the properties shared by the ionic compounds. Notice that the properties of ionic compounds relate to how strongly the positive and negative ions attract each other in an ionic bond.
  • Ionic compounds form crystals.
    Ionic compounds form crystal lattices rather than amorphous solids. Although molecular compounds form crystals, they frequently take other forms plus molecular crystals typically are softer than ionic crystals.

  • Ionic compounds have high melting points and high boiling points.
    High temperatures are required to overcome the attraction between the positive and negative ions in ionic compounds. Therefore, a lot of energy is required to melt ionic compounds or cause them to boil.

  • Ionic compounds have higher enthalpies of fusion and vaporization than molecular compounds.
    Just as ionic compounds have high melting and boiling points, they usually have enthalpies of fusion and vaporization that may be 10 to 100 times higher than those of most molecular compounds. The enthalpy of fusion is the heat required melt a single mole of a solid under constant pressure. The enthalpy of vaporization is the heat required for vaporize one mole of a liquid compound under constant pressure.

  • Ionic compounds are hard and brittle.
    Ionic crystals are hard because the positive and negative ions are strongly attracted to each other and difficult to separate, however, when pressure is applied to an ionic crystal then ions of like charge may be forced closer to each other. The electrostatic repulsion can be enough to split the crystal, which is why ionic solids also are brittle.

  • Ionic compounds conduct electricity when they are dissolved in water.
    When ionic compounds are dissolved in water the dissociated ions are free to conduct electric charge through the solution. Molten ionic compounds (molten salts) also conduct electricity.

  • Ionic solids are good insulators.
    Although they conduct in molten form or in aqueous solution, ionic solids do not conduct electricity very well because the ions are bound so tightly to each other.

Ionic Bonds and Compounds

Examples of Ionic Compounds
How To Name Ionic Compounds
Self-Quiz - Ionic Compound Nomenclature

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