If an atom, or atoms, has a balanced variety of electrons (negative charge) and also protons (positive charge) they are neutral overall. However, if they room not balanced, they will certainly be charged. These charged species are referred to as ions.

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What is a cation?

A cation has more protons 보다 electrons, consequently offering it a net confident charge. For a cation to form, one or more electrons have to be lost, commonly pulled away by atoms with a stronger affinity for them. The number of electrons lost, and so the charge of the ion, is indicated after the chemical symbol, e.g. Silver (Ag) loses one electron to become Ag+, whilst zinc (Zn) loses 2 electrons to come to be Zn2+.



What is an anion?

An anion has an ext electrons than protons, consequently offering it a net an adverse charge. Because that an anion to form, one or more electrons have to be gained, typically pulled far from various other atoms v a weaker affinity because that them. The number of electrons gained, and also so the charge of the ion, is shown after the chemistry symbol, e.g. Chlorine (Cl) benefit one electron to come to be Cl-, whilst oxygen (O) gains 2 electrons to come to be O2-.


Cation vs anion chart

The key differences between cations and also anions space summarized in the table below.






Electrode attracted to

Cathode (negative)

Anode (positive)

Formed by

Metal atoms

Non-metal atoms


Sodium (Na+), stole (Fe2+), Ammonium (NH4+)

Chloride (Cl-), Bromide (Br-), Sulfate (SO42-)

Metallic atoms organize some of their electrons reasonably loosely. Consequently, they tend to lose electrons and kind cations. Conversely, many nonmetallic atoms tempt electrons more strongly 보다 metallic atoms, and also so get electrons to form anions. Therefore, when atoms native a metallic and also a nonmetallic facet combine, the nonmetallic atoms have tendency to draw one or much more electrons away from the metallic atoms to kind ions. This oppositely charged ion then tempt one various other to kind ionic bonds and also produce ionic compounds through no overall net charge. Examples encompass calcium chloride (CaCl2), potassium iodide (KI) and also magnesium oxide (MgO).

Cation vs anion routine table

It have the right to be feasible to predict whether an atom will form a cation or an anion based upon its position on the periodic table. Halogens always kind anions, alkali metals and alkaline planet metals always kind cations. Many other metals form cations (e.g. Iron, silver, nickel), whilst many other nonmetals typically type anions (e.g. Oxygen, carbon, sulfur). However, some facets are capable of developing both cations and also anions offered the best conditions. One instance is hydrogen, i m sorry may get (H-) or lose (H+) an electron, developing hydride compounds such as ZnH2 (where the is one anion) and hydron compound such as H2O (where it is a cation).

Elements in team 18 the the periodic table – the “noble gases”, have tendency not to type ions due to the plan of your electrons which provides them usually unreactive.


Cation vs anion size

Cations and anions come in many sizes throughout the routine table, as watched in this video.

Utilizing ionic properties

Ionic properties deserve to be exploited by chemists because that a selection of purposes. Ion-exchange chromatography for instance relies ~ above the affinity of the molecules gift separated for the stationary phase based on their fee properties to enable separation.

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Ionic nature are central to the role of batteries too. Batteries have two electrodes do of conductive material, the cathode i beg your pardon is the positive finish where the electrical present leaves/electrons enter, and the anode where the electrical current enters/ electron leave. In in between the electrodes is one electrolyte liquid or gel that consists of charged corpuscle – ions. Together this ionic problem reacts with the electrodes it generates electrical current. In solitary use, dry cell batteries, zinc is commonly used as the anode whilst manganese dioxide is a popular an option for the electrolyte cathode. The zinc anode also acts together the battery’s container in zinc-carbon battery so as it oxidizes during use, the contents can begin to leak over time.