Recall how to locate valence electrons for all atoms (except transition and inner transition metals). Realize that metals will lose electrons to form cations and nonmetals gain electrons to form anions. Predict charges (using the modified Bohr model, Z Predict charges (using the modified Bohr model) for the following elements: phosphorus, nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and aluminum. Memorize charges for silver and zinc Label your periodic table with predicted charges from Bohr model.

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Earlier, we located the valence electrons for elements Z

Figure (PageIndex1): Valentine image constructed from Pink Hearts Frame from and photo of Bill Nye by Gage Skidmore (CC-BY=SA 2.0).


A neutral sodium atom is likely to achieve an octet in its outermost shell by losing its one valence electron.

The cation produced in this way, Na+, is called the sodium ion to distinguish it from the element. The outermost shell of the sodium ion is the second electron shell, which has eight electrons in it. The octet rule has been satisfied. Figure (PageIndex1) is a graphical depiction of this process.

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A piece of lead, cut through, is silvery for a short time, before the surface oxidizes. This was the left piece of the previous image, it was cut with a sharp knife, using a hammer. (CC By 3/0;

When lead becomes a cation, it will not be visible and can become water soluble. If lead ions enter a drinking water system, one would not be able to detect them visually. For years, lead pipes were installed to transport water to consumers in many countries including the United States. If corrosive water were to enter a lead-based pipe, it would produce soluble lead ions. These charged species could be ingested unknowingly by residents of the community. Watch the video below and note how lead has affected the city of Flint, Michigan.

Follow-up questions

Why was the drinking water source changed from Lake Huron to Flint River? Did the Flint River contain lead? If not, how did the lead enter the drinking water? How did the residents describe their drinking water? Please realize the discoloration of the water is due to excess iron and not lead. How can lead damage the body? Who does it affect the most? What could have been added to the water before releasing it to the pipes? Why did you think officials didn"t add this sdrta.netical? What were all the contaminants this video mentioned? How did boiling the water help and hurt the residents of Flint, Michigan?


Some atoms have nearly eight electrons in their valence shell and can gain additional valence electrons until they have an octet. When these atoms gain electrons, they acquire a negative charge because they now possess more electrons than protons. Negatively charged ions are called anions. Most nonmetals become anions when they make ionic compounds.

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A neutral chlorine atom has seven electrons in its outermost shell. Only one more electron is needed to achieve an octet in chlorine’s valence shell. (In table salt, this electron comes from the sodium atom.)


In this case, the ion has the same outermost shell as the original atom, but now that shell has eight electrons in it. Once again, the octet rule has been satisfied. The resulting anion, Cl−, is called the chloride ion; note the slight change in the suffix (-ide instead of -ine) to create the name of this anion. Figure (PageIndex2) is a graphical depiction of this process.


In many cases, elements that belong to the same group (vertical column) on the periodic table form ions with the same charge because they have the same number of valence electrons. Thus, the periodic table becomes a tool for remembering the charges on many ions. For example, all ions made from alkali metals, the first column on the periodic table, have a 1+ charge. Ions made from alkaline earth metals, the second group on the periodic table, have a 2+ charge. On the other side of the periodic table, the next-to-last column, the halogens, form ions having a 1− charge. Figure (PageIndex3) shows how the charge on many ions can be predicted by the location of an element on the periodic table.