Difference Between Ionic, Covalent and Metallic Bonds

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Difference Between Ionic, Covalent and Metallic Bonds Difference Between Ionic, Covalent and Metallic Bonds

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Nature is full of entities that link with one another to build a new structure or a new class of components. As an example, consider the formation of water. It is generated by a chemical bonding process in which two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom link to form the liquid state of water. Living organisms and the proper functioning of their bodily components rely on chemical bonding.

When electrons are transferred, ionic bonding happens. One or more electrons are given by one atom (or molecule) to another. Since electrons carry a negative charge, the other atom becomes electron rich and the giving atom becomes electron deficient (+ve charged ion) ( -ve charged ion). The oppositely charged ions then attract one another through electrostatic forces of attraction. Atoms or molecules that exchange electron pairs form covalent bonds. Metals may form bonds called "metallic bonds." This results in enormous structures made up of metal atoms grouped in a predictable way. A metallic structure is a regular arrangement of positively charged ions with negatively charged electrons sandwiched in between, kept together by electrostatic forces. This is possible because the outer shell electrons of metals are delocalized (free to move about).

Metallic Bonds vs. Ionic Bonds vs. Covalent Bonds

Main bonds and secondary bonds are the two categories into which bonds fall. Primary bonds are the chemical links that retain atoms in molecules; secondary bonds are the forces that hold molecules together. The three primary forms of bonding are ionic bonds, covalent bonds, and metallic bonds. Examples of secondary bonds include hydrogen, dipole, and dispersion bonds. Primary bonds are more stable and have larger bond energies than secondary forces. Ionic bonds are formed when one atom donates electrons to another, covalent bonds are formed when two atoms share valence electrons, and metallic bonds are formed when a variety of atoms share a variety of electrons in a metal lattice. This is the main difference between ionic, covalent, and metallic bonds.

Ionic bonds give and absorb electrons, and they only occur when one substance is a metal and the other is non-metal. This is the main contrast between ionic covalent and metallic bonds. When two similar atoms share an electron, a covalent bond is created; when there are positively charged ions and free-floating electrons, a metallic bond is created.

A metallic atom transfers electrons to a non-metallic atom to form an ionic bond. As an illustration, take sodium chloride, which has an atomic number of 11 and an electronic configuration of 2,8,1. The outermost electron of sodium is extra. Contrarily, the atomic number of chlorine is 17, and its electronic configuration is 2,8,7. Chlorine requires one more electron to complete its outermost shell because it already has seven electrons there, making all of its atoms stable. When sodium combines with chorine, it gains an additional electron, which it then transfers to chorine. Sodium becomes positively charged ions (Na+) during this process, while chorine becomes negatively charged ions after receiving an electron (Cl–). The Ionic Bond, a potent electrical force of attraction, holds these two oppositely charged ions together.

A covalent bond is created when two or more atoms come together through the exchange of electrons. As an illustration, let's take two oxygen atoms and investigate the production of oxygen gas (O2) as we know that oxygen has eight electrons and six valence electrons in its outer shell. The Octet Rule will be satisfied, making these two outer valence shells of oxygen, which now contain 6 electrons, stable. Covalent bonding is the process by which two oxygen atoms unite and share two more oxygen atoms in order to stabilise themselves.

The electrostatic attraction between metal ions organised in a lattice (regular repeating pattern) structure and the free-floating of electrons surrounding them is known as metallic bonding. The only particles present in a metallic structure are metal ions, which are placed side by side in a regular, repeating pattern. The free-floating electrons serve as the structure's binding agents. Because of this powerful attraction, metals have extremely high melting and boiling points. Metal is an excellent conductor of electricity because of its free-floating electrons.

Difference Between Ionic, Covalent and Metallic Bonds in Tabular Form

Table: Metallic Bonds vs. Ionic Bonds vs. Covalent Bonds
Parameter of Comparison
Ionic Bond
Covalent Bond
Metallic Bond
Non-metal and metal
2 non-metallic
Positively Atoms with charges and errant electrons
Molecule Shape
No clear form   lattice structure
Clearly Shaped
no clear form
Sulphuric acid with sodium chloride
Hydro choric acid, methane
Magnesium and Sodium
Melting point
elevated melting point
minimal melting point
Superior Melting Point

What is Ionic Bond?

Ionic bonding occurs when a metal and a non-metal exchange electrons back and forth. At least one metal is required for an ionic connection to form. For instance, a magnesium atom lost two electrons and created positively charged magnesium ions, which are metal ions; in contrast, an oxygen atom gained two electrons and transformed into negatively charged oxide ions, which are non-metals. Ionic bonding is the name for the attraction between these two atoms, since one is positive and the other is negative.

In order to fully occupy their outermost orbit and increase stability, certain atoms often give or receive electrons.

Atoms in their outermost orbit with more electrons have a propensity to receive electrons and transform into positively charged ions, whereas atoms in their outermost orbit with fewer electrons have a tendency to donate electrons and transform into positively charged ions. Due to the ions' opposing charges, these ions are attracted to one another when they are brought together. Ionic bonds are the name for these forces. Electrostatic bonds are another name for these strong connections. Ionic solids lack free-moving electrons, which results in crystalline formations and limited electrical conductivity. Bonds between metal and non-metal materials with a significant variation in electronegativity are common. LiF, NaCl, BeO, and CaF2 are some examples of materials that are ionically linked.

What is a Covalent Bond?

Only non-metal substances experience covalent bonding. It only happens when two or more non-metals share a pair of electrons; it can never happen with metals. For instance, two chlorine atoms can combine to produce an element when their outer shells overlap and share a pair of electrons. Together, the two atoms make a highly powerful link that binds them together. Covalent bonding is the name for this kind of relationship.

When two atoms share their valence electrons, covalent bonds are created. The electronegativity of the two atoms differs little from one another. Same-type or different-type atoms can form covalent bonds with one another.

One electron is required by fluorine, for instance, to complete its outer shell; as a result, another fluorine atom shares this electron through the formation of a covalent bond, resulting in the F2 molecule. Materials with covalent bonds can exist in solid, liquid, or gaseous forms. Water molecules, diamonds, silica, nitrogen gas, hydrogen gas, and other gases are examples of materials that are covalently connected.

What is a Metallic Bond?

When two metals are metallically bonded, the metals lose their electrons to create positive ions, and the free electrons turn into delocalized electrons, which means they are no longer bound to any ions and float in a sea of delocalized electrons. Since the delocalized electrons are negative and the ions are positive, they will be attracted to one another. Metallic bonding refers to the electrical attraction between positive ions and negatively delocalized electrons.

Valence electrons in a metal lattice are only weakly bound to metal atom nuclei. Valence electrons can escape from nuclei with extremely little energy. Metal atoms change into positively charged ions as a result of these detached electrons.

An electron cloud is a dense collection of negatively charged, freely moving electrons that surrounds these positively charged ions. The attraction between the electron cloud and ions creates electrostatic forces. Metallic bonds are the names of these forces. There is no way to distinguish which atom shares which electron in metallic bonds because practically every atom in the metal lattice does so. This is the basis for the term "delocalized electrons," which is used to describe electrons in metallic bonds. Metals are renowned for being effective electrical conductors because of their free-moving electrons. Iron, copper, gold, silver, nickel, and other metals are examples of substances with metallic bonding.

Main Differences Between Ionic, Covalent, and Metallic Bonds in Points

  1. In an ionic link, one atom gives another an electron; in a covalent bond, two atoms swap valence electrons; and in a metallic bond, atoms in the metal lattice share multiple electrons.
  2. The bond energy in ionic and covalent bonds is larger than that in metallic bonds, although it is lower in metallic bonds compared to other main bonds.
  3. Metallic bonds are powerful conductors, but covalent bonds are relatively weak ones. Ionic bonds are poor conductors.
  4. Metallic bonds can only exist in the solid state, whereas ionic bonds can exist in the solid, liquid, or gaseous states.
  5.  Metallic bonds, unlike ionic and covalent bonds, are malleable, whereas ionic and covalent bonds are not.
  • Definition

Electrostatic forces form ionic bonds when negative and positive ions come together.

Covalent bond: Covalent bonds are formed when two elements share a valence electron in order to produce neutral gases with the proper electron configuration.

Metallic bond: A metallic bond is a force that exists between positively charged metal ions and negatively charged electrons that are freely moving.

  • Bond Power

Bond energy for ionic bonds is greater than for metallic bonds.

Bond energy is higher for covalent bonds than for metallic ones.

Bond energy is lower for metallic bonds than for other main bonds.

  • Formation

Ionic Bonds: Ionic bonds are created when two atoms share their electrons.

Two atoms create covalent bonds when they share valence electrons.

Metallic Bonds: In a metal lattice, metallic bonds are created when a variable number of atoms share a variable number of electrons.

  • Conductivity

Low conductivity is a property of ionic bonding.

Covalent Bonds: The conductivity of covalent bonds is quite low.

Metal bonds: Metal bonds have extremely high thermal and electrical conductivities.

  • Melting and boiling temperatures

Higher melting and boiling points are seen in ionic bonding.

Lower melting and boiling points are associated with covalent bonding.

Metallic Bonds: The melting and boiling points of metallic bonds are high.

  • Physical Condition

Ionic Bonding: Ionic bonds can only be found in solids.

Covalent Bonds: Solids, liquids, and gases all include covalent bonds.

Metallic Bonding: There are only solid forms of metallic bonding.

  • The Type of Bond

Bonds between ions are non-directional.

Covalent Bonds: A directional bond exists.

Bonds in metals: The bond has no direction.

  • Hardness

Ionic Bonds: Because of their crystalline structure, ionic bonds are tough.

Except for diamond, silicon, and carbon, covalent bonds are not particularly strong.

Metal bonding: Metal bonds are not very difficult.

  • Malleability

Ionic Bonds: Ionic bond-containing materials are not bendable.

Covalent Bonds: Covalently bound materials are not bendable.

Materials that have metallic connections are bendable.

  • Ductility

Ionic Bonds: Ionic bond-containing materials are not ductile.

Covalent Bonds: Covalently bound materials are not ductile.

Metallic Bonds: Ductile materials have metallic bonds.

Examples of ionic bonds are LiF, NaCl, BeO, and CaF2, among others.

Examples include the gases hydrogen and nitrogen, as well as water, diamond, and silica molecules.

Metal bonds: iron, gold, nickel, copper, silver, lead, and so on are a few examples.


In this cosmos, many components come together to generate various elements. These components are being learned from and improved upon by humans to make people's lives more simple and comfortable.

Chemical bonding is the study of a compound's or element's chemical structure; this field of research has the potential to produce findings that will be helpful to humanity. There are still a lot of discoveries to be made, despite the fact that the study of chemical bonding of ionic, covalent, and metallic bonds has helped us comprehend the diverse characteristics of the many elements existing in the universe.


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  • https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00150199208019535
  • Cracolice, Mark. Basics of Introductory Chemistry with Math Review. 2nd ed. N.p.: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.
  • Duke, Catherine Venessa. A., and Craig Denver Williams. Chemistry for Environmental and Earth Sciences. N.p.: CRC Press, 2007. Print.


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"Difference Between Ionic, Covalent and Metallic Bonds." Diffzy.com, 2023. Mon. 20 Mar. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-ionic-covalent-and-metallic-bonds-1025>.

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