MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Why do chemical compounds differ drasticly from their constituent parts?

Date: Sun Nov 19 15:38:08 2000
Posted By: Artem Evdokimov, Postdoc
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 973230073.Ch

Dear User,

The fact that you are asking this question indicates significant gaps in 
your general knowledge of chemistry and physics. While not 
particularly alarming in itself (many people pass high school without 
knowing any chemistry or physics), this may be an indicator that some time 
spent in library would do you a power of good. 

Please note that chlorine gas is NOT Cl but Cl2 and sodium chloride (table 
salt) is NOT NaCl2 but NaCl.

Reactive elements are so reactive precisely because their higher 
orbitals either have an abundance of electrons which they are willing to 
share (alkali metals for instance) or lack of electrons which they are 
willing to accept (halogens for instance). When these elements react, they 
form stable products which have lower 'chemical energy' (the extra energy 
is usually released as heat) than the reagents and thus are less reactive, 
less violent etc.

Molecular structure of NaCl does not 'affect' its properties - it DEFINES 
them. NaCl does not preserve any of the properties of the elements from 
which it is formed (in this case Na metal and Cl2 gas for instance) instead 
it has a distinct set of chemical properties typical of salts. In sodium 
chloride, both Na and Cl atoms are polarized (ionized) unlike in the 
starting compounds where the atoms are neutral. 

It would help you if you look up the definition of 'atom' 'element' and 
'chemical compound' using for instance encyclopedia britannica (online or 

In order  to answer your question completely, I would have to quote entire 
several first chapters of any basic chemistry textbook. Rather than doing 
so, I would like to once again direct you towards the library where you may 
find an abundance of textbooks with detailed introductions into general 

Hope it helps,


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