What are ionic compounds?

Ionic compounds

There is a large number of compounds that are formed by the fusion of their atoms and their molecules in order to be able to form chemical compounds of greater size and stability. In the case of ionic compounds , there is a union between the ions that have their opposite charges and this is done by means of electrostatic forces .

Ionic compounds What are they, characteristics, properties, formation, examples 

What are ionic compounds?

An ionic compound is a type of compound that is formed when an atom with low electron affinity becomes an anion and at the same time, another atom gains electrons by becoming a cation .

It is important to mention that in nature there are a large number of substances that are classified as compounds that, when combined, have the ability to form thousands of different compounds. This is done through the union of their atoms and the process can happen through different ways, including ionic and covalent bonds . It is from these bonds that the ionic compound is born .

  • Characteristics of ionic compounds
  • Physical and chemical properties
  • Formulation or nomenclature
  • How ionic compounds are formed
  • Importance
  • Examples of ionic compounds

Characteristics of ionic compounds

There are many characteristics that ionic compounds present, including the following:

  • Ionic compounds have a type of structure that is characterized by being crystalline , this without taking into account their true nature.
  • They are in a solid state when they are at room temperature.
  • It has very strong attractive forces .
  • When dissolved , they have the ability to conduct electricity .
  • They have toughness , in other words, they have the ability to resist scratching .
  • They have resistance to dilation .
  • Ionic compounds are electrically neutral so the sum of their positive charges will always be the same as the sum of their negative charges.
  • They are linked by covalent bonds which occur between their atoms.

Physical and chemical properties

Ionic compounds possess the following physical and chemical properties:

  • When they are at room temperature they are in solid state because their attractive forces between their ions are very strong even when they are in front of very high temperatures. For this reason, they can also melt when faced with high temperatures.
  • They cannot conduct electric current if they are in their solid state, but when they are dissolved or melted they do have the property of conduction . This process is known by the name of ionic conductivity .
  • Their boiling points are also quite high and for this reason, they are used as refractory materials.
  • They have great hardness but are also brittle .
  • They have resistance to dilation when the intermolecular forces that their ions have are weakened.
  • They also have the ability to be soluble in water and when they do they are known by the name of electrolytes .

Formulation or nomenclature

Regarding its formulation, it should be remembered that ionic compounds are made up of cations and anions . Most of the compounds of this type are classified as binary compounds since they are formed by two elements, for this reason, for their nomenclature the non-metallic anion is used first, followed by the metallic cation. 

The anion must be named by always taking the first part of the name that the element has and then adding the suffix “uro” .  This suffix is ​​also used in some of the groups that belong to the anions that have different elements.

Some metals , mainly those that are located within the transition group, have the ability to form more than one cation , in this case, they must be differentiated by adding the prefix ” bear ” to the cation that has a lower positive charge and the suffix ” ico “To those cations that have a higher positive charge .

Also, it is normal for cations to have Roman numerals . In this case, the number I indicates that it is a positive charge while the number II will indicate the presence of two positive charges.

How ionic compounds are formed

Ionic compounds are formed when the union of ions that have opposite charges occurs . There is a transfer between the electrons that exist in one atom to another, thus forming cations or positive ions and anions or negative ions , which in turn have the ability to attract each other. In its formation process, electrons are neither gained nor lost, on the contrary, they are shared between the atoms that are part of the bond.


Ionic compounds are important because they allow as many combinations of chemical compounds as possible to be made . This is how many compounds are formed that are used daily in both homes and industries . Many of them are also used in the field of medicine , becoming necessary medicines for the lives of many people.

Examples of ionic compounds

Some examples of ionic compounds are as follows:

  • Sodium chloride : its formula is NaCl and it is normally known as the salt that we consume daily in food.
  • Potassium bromide : its formula is KBr and it is used in the production of films for photography.
  • Magnesium chloride : with its MgCl2 formula, magnesium chloride is also used in cooking, in medicines and in some industrial processes.
  • Sodium sulfate : Na2SO4 is used in the industrial field, in the manufacture of fabric dyes and in some cases, in the pharmaceutical field as a type of laxative.
  • Other examples are: iron sulfide, sodium hypochlorite, calcium phosphate , lithium fluoride, potassium hydroxide, potassium iodide, copper sulfate, and magnesium oxide.

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