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

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What is a cation?

A cation has much more protons 보다 electrons, consequently providing it a net optimistic charge. Because that a cation to form, one or an ext electrons have to be lost, generally pulled away by atoms through a stronger affinity because that them. The variety of electrons lost, and also so the fee of the ion, is suggested after the chemistry symbol, e.g. Silver (Ag) loses one electron to become Ag+, whilst zinc (Zn) loses two electrons to become Zn2+.



What is an anion?

An anion has more electrons 보다 protons, consequently offering it a net an adverse charge. For an anion come form, one or more electrons should be gained, generally pulled away from other atoms through a weaker affinity because that them. The number of electrons gained, and also so the charge of the ion, is suggested after the chemical symbol, e.g. Chlorine (Cl) profit one electron to end up being Cl-, whilst oxygen (O) gains two electrons to become O2-.


Cation vs anion chart

The main differences between cations and also anions are summarized in the table below.






Electrode attractive to

Cathode (negative)

Anode (positive)

Formed by

Metal atoms

Non-metal atoms


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

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

Metallic atoms hold some of their electrons fairly loosely. Consequently, they often tend to lose electrons and type cations. Conversely, many nonmetallic atoms attract electrons an ext strongly than metallic atoms, and so get electrons to type anions. Therefore, as soon as atoms indigenous a metallic and also a nonmetallic element combine, the nonmetallic atoms have tendency to attract one or an ext electrons far from the metallic atom to form ions. This oppositely charged ions then entice one various other to kind ionic bonds and also produce ionic compounds with no all at once net charge. Examples encompass calcium chloride (CaCl2), potassium iodide (KI) and also magnesium oxide (MgO).

Cation vs anion routine table

It can be feasible to predict even if it is an atom will form a cation or one anion based on its place on the periodic table. Halogens always form anions, alkali metals and also alkaline planet metals always type cations. Most other metals type cations (e.g. Iron, silver, nickel), whilst most other nonmetals typically form anions (e.g. Oxygen, carbon, sulfur). However, some facets are qualified of developing both cations and anions provided the best conditions. One example is hydrogen, i m sorry may obtain (H-) or lose (H+) an electron, creating hydride compound such as ZnH2 (where it is an anion) and hydron compounds such together H2O (where that is a cation).

Elements in group 18 of the regular table – the “noble gases”, have tendency not to type ions as result of the arrangement of your electrons which renders them usually unreactive.


Cation vs anion size

Cations and anions come in numerous sizes across the routine table, as checked out in this video.

Utilizing ionic properties

Ionic properties have the right to be exploited by chemists because that a variety of purposes. Ion-exchange color layer analyzer for instance relies ~ above the affinity the the molecules gift separated because that the stationary phase based upon their charge properties to permit separation.

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Ionic properties are main to the duty of battery too. Batteries have two electrodes make of conductive material, the cathode i beg your pardon is the positive end where the electrical current leaves/electrons enter, and the anode wherein the electrical present enters/ electron leave. In in between the electrodes is an electrolyte fluid or gelatin that consists of charged particles – ions. Together this ionic substance reacts v the electrodes that generates electrical current. In single use, dried cell batteries, zinc is generally used together the anode whilst manganese dioxide is a popular choice for the electrolyte cathode. The zinc anode likewise acts together the battery’s container in zinc-carbon batteries so as it oxidizes throughout use, the components can start to leak end time.