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Is Water a Compound?


This is the three-dimensional structure for water.

This is the three-dimensional structure for water. The white atom is oxygen. The red atoms are hydrogen.

Ben Mills

Question: Is Water a Compound?

Have you ever wondered whether or not water is a compound? Here's the answer to the question and the explanation for it.

Answer: Yes, water is a compound. A compound forms whenever two or more atoms form chemical bonds with each other. The chemical formula for water is H2O, which means each molecule of water consists of one oxygen atom chemically bonded to two hydrogen atoms. Thus, water is a compound. It's also a molecule, which is any chemical species formed by two or more atoms chemically bonded to each other. The terms molecule and compound mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably.

Sometimes confusion arises because the definitions of 'molecule' and 'compound' haven't always been so clear-cut. In the past, some schools taught molecules consisted of atoms bonded via covalent chemical bonds, while compounds were formed via ionic bonds. The hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water are covalently bonded, so under these definitions, water would be a molecule, but not a compound. An example of a compound would be table salt, NaCl. However, as scientists came to understand chemical bonding better, the line between ionic and covalent bonds became fuzzier. Also, some molecules contain both ionic and covalent bonds between the various atoms. In modern science, molecules and compounds are one and the same.

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