What are hydrides?


The combination of any element with hydrogen is known as a hydride . Since hydrogen is such a common component of many materials, we can see hydrides practically everywhere. The water has a hydrogen-oxygen bond so is a hydride. The foods contain carbon-hydrogen bonds, so are also classified as hydride and many of the objects we see in our lives also have carbon-hydrogen bonds including plastics, clothing, wood walls and many other compounds.


What are hydrides?

Hydrides are a type of chemical compounds that combine hydrogen atoms and atoms of any other element found within the periodic table in their molecule . It is the combination of hydrogen with another element.

  • Types of hydrides
  • features
  • Properties
  • How hydrides are formed
  • Uses and applications
  • Structure
  • Nomenclature
  • Location of hydrides in the periodic table
  • Importance
  • Examples of hydride elements

Types of hydrides

There are three types of hydrides that are:

  • Metal hydrides : they are formed by alkaline and alkaline-earth elements.  They are non-volatile compounds that have conductivity . In this group we can distinguish the hydrides that form the most electropositive metals and are called saline hydrides, which are generally white or gray solids that are obtained by direct reaction of the metal with hydrogen at high temperatures.
  • Volatile or non-metallic hydrides : they are formed with non-metallic elements with low electronegativity, this means with nitrogen, phosphorus, arsenic , antimony , bismuth, boron, carbon and silicon. They are also known as molecular or covalent hydrides , because they have covalent bonds.
  • Hydric hydrides : they are born from the combination of hydrogen with a halogen or with an antigenic element.


The main characteristics of hydrides are the following:

  • All are thermally unstable and some explode on contact with air or moisture.
  • In metal hydrides the oxidation number is -1.
  • In non-metallic hydrides the oxidation number of hydrogen is 1.
  • Depending on the kind of element with which it is combined, the hydrogen in hydrides can form ionic or covalent bonds .
  • The traditional nomenclature of metal hydrides is made by naming the word hydride followed by the metal element.
  • They are classified as binary inorganic compounds because they have two chemical elements .


It usually hydrides are compounds stoichiometric exhibiting metallic properties such as conductivity . They have a high rate of diffusion of hydrogen through the solid when subjected to high temperatures.

Saline hydrides are generally in a solid state and are white or gray in color . This type of hydride can be obtained through direct reactions of the metal with hydrogen .

Elements such as phosphorus , arsenic and their compounds are considered toxic . They have quite effective reducing agents and do not react with water or acids classified as non- oxidizing .

How hydrides are formed

Hydrides are a compound that is formed when a hydrogen molecule joins any other element on the periodic table. When the chemical compound is composed of a hydrogen and a metal , then it will be a metal hydride and if it combines with an element that is not a metal, it is named as a non-metal hydride .

Hydrogen forms covalent or ionic bonds , depending on the element with which it is combined. When associated with transition metals , interstitial hydrides are formed with physical and chemical properties that can vary greatly from one metal to another.

Uses and applications

Some of the uses of hydrides can be mentioned below:

  • They function as desiccants and reducers , and some are used as sources of pure hydrogen.
  • Nickel metal hydride batteries that are rechargeable and for both domestic and industrial use.
  • Some of them can be used in cleaning , to bleach hair and in laundry .
  • They are used as pesticides in fumigation, but this use is restricted to businesses.
  • Technical applications such as the creation of fertilizers , explosives , plastic colorants , textile fibers , paints , and batteries .
  • Some work in the synthesis of organic and inorganic iodine compounds .
  • In medicine, some of them can also be used as supplements .


The hydrogen is the element having the simplest atomic structure of all elements. They are made up of only one proton and one electron . Despite having this simple composition, when it is combined with other elements it gives rise to hydrides


Hydrides are formed when a metallic element combines with hydrogen gas and it reacts. The general equation for them is the following:

Me + H  → MeH x


  •  = is the oxidation number of the metal.

It is important to remember that the oxidation number of hydrogen in hydrides is always going to be -1.

Location of hydrides in the periodic table

Virtually all the chemical elements in the periodic table can generate binary compounds with hydrogen , so the number of hydrides is very high, and their properties are very different.

If the metal of the union belongs to groups 1 and 2 of the periodic table, the bond is saline hydrides . With the elements of the d and f blocks , metal hydrides are formed , with the elements of the p block they are classified as molecular hydrides .


They are chemical compounds  necessary for human life . These compounds can range from simply the water we drink daily, to the acids that are used both in industry, commerce and in people’s homes.

Examples of hydride elements

Some examples are the following:

  • Sodium hydride (NaH)
  • Phosphine (PH3)
  • Barium hydride (BaH2)
  • Bismutin (Bi2S3)
  • Permanganic hydride (MnH7)
  • Ammonia (NH3)
  • Arsine (AsH3)
  • Stibinite or antimonite
  • Hydrobromic acid (HBr)

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