Na Valence Electrons

Learning Objectives

  • To use Lewis electron dot symbols to predict the number of bonds an element will form.

Why are some substances chemically bonded molecules and others are an association of ions? The answer to this question depends upon the electronic structures of the atoms and nature of the chemical forces within the compounds. Although there are no sharply defined boundaries, chemical bonds are typically classified into three main types: ionic bonds, covalent bonds, and metallic bonds. In this chapter, each type of bond wil be discussed and the general properties found in typical substances in which the bond type occurs

  1. Ionic bonds results from electrostatic forces that exist between ions of opposite charge. These bonds typically involves a metal with a nonmetal
  2. Covalent bonds result from the sharing of electrons between two atoms. The bonds typically involves one nonmetallic element with another
  3. Metallic bonds These bonds are found in solid metals (copper, iron, aluminum) with each metal bonded to several neighboring groups and bonding electrons free to move throughout the 3-dimensional structure.

Valence electron, any of the fundamental negatively charged particles in the outermost region of atoms that enters into the formation of chemical bonds.Whatever the type of chemical bond (ionic, covalent, metallic) between atoms, changes in the atomic structure are restricted to the outermost, or valence, electrons. Valence Electrons 34 How many “valence electrons” in: Li Fe Cu Electrons that are in the highest energy. Valence Electrons 35 Note all elements in a Group have same number of valence electrons. Group 1: Li, Na, K, Rb, Cs, Fr Group 16: O, S, Se, Te, Po. Excited State 36 (e-have absorbed energy to move to a higher energy level. Periodic Table of Elements with Valence Electrons Trends. In the below periodic table you can see the trend of Valence Electrons. For facts, physical properties, chemical properties, structure and atomic properties of the specific element, click on the element symbol in the below periodic table. The element sodium has the electron configuration 1s 2 2s 2 2p 6 3s 1. The outer energy level is n = 3 and there is one valence electron. The attraction between this lone valence electron and the nucleus with 11 protons is shielded by the other 10 core electrons.

Each bond classification is discussed in detail in subsequent sections of the chapter. Office 365 for mac 2011. Let's look at the preferred arrangements of electrons in atoms when they form chemical compounds.

Lewis Symbols

At the beginning of the 20th century, the American chemist G. N. Lewis (1875–1946) devised a system of symbols—now called Lewis electron dot symbols (often shortened to Lewis dot symbols) that can be used for predicting the number of bonds formed by most elements in their compounds. Each Lewis dot symbol consists of the chemical symbol for an element surrounded by dots that represent its valence electrons.

Lewis Dot symbols:

  • convenient representation of valence electrons
  • allows you to keep track of valence electrons during bond formation
  • consists of the chemical symbol for the element plus a dot for each valence electron

To write an element’s Lewis dot symbol, we place dots representing its valence electrons, one at a time, around the element’s chemical symbol. Up to four dots are placed above, below, to the left, and to the right of the symbol (in any order, as long as elements with four or fewer valence electrons have no more than one dot in each position). The next dots, for elements with more than four valence electrons, are again distributed one at a time, each paired with one of the first four. For example, the electron configuration for atomic sulfur is [Ne]3s23p4, thus there are six valence electrons. Its Lewis symbol would therefore be:

Fluorine, for example, with the electron configuration [He]2s22p5, has seven valence electrons, so its Lewis dot symbol is constructed as follows:

Lewis used the unpaired dots to predict the number of bonds that an element will form in a compound. Consider the symbol for nitrogen in Figure 8.1.2. The Lewis dot symbol explains why nitrogen, with three unpaired valence electrons, tends to form compounds in which it shares the unpaired electrons to form three bonds. Boron, which also has three unpaired valence electrons in its Lewis dot symbol, also tends to form compounds with three bonds, whereas carbon, with four unpaired valence electrons in its Lewis dot symbol, tends to share all of its unpaired valence electrons by forming compounds in which it has four bonds.

The Octet Rule

In 1904, Richard Abegg formulated what is now known as Abegg's rule, which states that the difference between the maximum positive and negative valences of an element is frequently eight. This rule was used later in 1916 when Gilbert N. Lewis formulated the 'octet rule' in his cubical atom theory. The octet rule refers to the tendency of atoms to prefer to have eight electrons in the valence shell. When atoms have fewer than eight electrons, they tend to react and form more stable compounds. Atoms will react to get in the most stable state possible. A complete octet is very stable because all orbitals will be full. Atoms with greater stability have less energy, so a reaction that increases the stability of the atoms will release energy in the form of heat or light ;reactions that decrease stability must absorb energy, getting colder.

When discussing the octet rule, we do not consider d or f electrons. Only the s and p electrons are involved in the octet rule, making it a useful rule for the main group elements (elements not in the transition metal or inner-transition metal blocks); an octet in these atoms corresponds to an electron configurations ending with s2p6.

Definition: Octet Rule

A stable arrangement is attended when the atom is surrounded by eight electrons. This octet can be made up by own electrons and some electrons which are shared. Thus, an atom continues to form bonds until an octet of electrons is made. This is known as octet rule by Lewis.

  1. Normally two electrons pairs up and forms a bond, e.g., (ce{H_2})
  2. For most atoms there will be a maximum of eight electrons in the valence shell (octet structure), e.g., (ce{CH_4})
The other tendency of atoms is to maintain a neutral charge. Only the noble gases (the elements on the right-most column of the periodic table) have zero charge with filled valence octets. All of the other elements have a charge when they have eight electrons all to themselves. The result of these two guiding principles is the explanation for much of the reactivity and bonding that is observed within atoms: atoms seek to share electrons in a way that minimizes charge while fulfilling an octet in the valence shell.

The noble gases rarely form compounds. They have the most stable configuration (full octet, no charge), so they have no reason to react and change their configuration. All other elements attempt to gain, lose, or share electrons to achieve a noble gas configuration.

Example (PageIndex{1}): Salt

The formula for table salt is NaCl. It is the result of Na+ ions and Cl- ions bonding together. If sodium metal and chlorine gas mix under the right conditions, they will form salt. The sodium loses an electron, and the chlorine gains that electron. In the process, a great amount of light and heat is released. The resulting salt is mostly unreactive — it is stable. It will not undergo any explosive reactions, unlike the sodium and chlorine that it is made of. Why?


Referring to the octet rule, atoms attempt to get a noble gas electron configuration, which is eight valence electrons. Sodium has one valence electron, so giving it up would result in the same electron configuration as neon. Chlorine has seven valence electrons, so if it takes one it will have eight (an octet). Chlorine has the electron configuration of argon when it gains an electron.

The octet rule could have been satisfied if chlorine gave up all seven of its valence electrons and sodium took them. In that case, both would have the electron configurations of noble gasses, with a full valence shell. However, their charges would be much higher. It would be Na7- and Cl7+, which is much less stable than Na+ and Cl-. Atoms are more stable when they have no charge, or a small charge.

Lewis dot symbols can also be used to represent the ions in ionic compounds. The reaction of cesium with fluorine, for example, to produce the ionic compound CsF can be written as follows:

No dots are shown on Cs+ in the product because cesium has lost its single valence electron to fluorine. The transfer of this electron produces the Cs+ ion, which has the valence electron configuration of Xe, and the F ion, which has a total of eight valence electrons (an octet) and the Ne electron configuration. This description is consistent with the statement that among the main group elements, ions in simple binary ionic compounds generally have the electron configurations of the nearest noble gas. The charge of each ion is written in the product, and the anion and its electrons are enclosed in brackets. This notation emphasizes that the ions are associated electrostatically; no electrons are shared between the two elements.

Atoms often gain, lose, or share electrons to achieve the same number of electrons as the noble gas closest to them in the periodic table.

As you might expect for such a qualitative approach to bonding, there are exceptions to the octet rule, which we describe elsewhere. These include molecules in which one or more atoms contain fewer or more than eight electrons.


Lewis dot symbols can be used to predict the number of bonds formed by most elements in their compounds. One convenient way to predict the number and basic arrangement of bonds in compounds is by using Lewis electron dot symbols, which consist of the chemical symbol for an element surrounded by dots that represent its valence electrons, grouped into pairs often placed above, below, and to the left and right of the symbol. The structures reflect the fact that the elements in period 2 and beyond tend to gain, lose, or share electrons to reach a total of eight valence electrons in their compounds, the so-called octet rule. Hydrogen, with only two valence electrons, does not obey the octet rule.

Contributors and Attributions

  • Mike Blaber (Florida State University)

  • National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (India)

Learning Objectives

  1. State the octet rule.
  2. Define ionic bond.
  3. Demonstrate electron transfer between atoms to form ionic bonds.

In Section 9.1 “Lewis Electron Dot Diagrams,” we saw how ions are formed by losing electrons to make cations or by gaining electrons to form anions. The astute reader may have noticed something: Many of the ions that form have eight electrons in their valence shell. Either atoms gain enough electrons to have eight electrons in the valence shell and become the appropriately charged anion, or they lose the electrons in their original valence shell. The lower shell, now the valence shell, has eight electrons in it, so the atom becomes positively charged. For whatever reason, having eight electrons in a valence shell is a particularly energetically stable arrangement of electrons. The trend that atoms like to have eight electrons in their valence shell is called the octet rule. When atoms form compounds, the octet rule is not always satisfied for all atoms at all times, but it is a very good rule of thumb for understanding the kinds of bonding arrangements that atoms can make.

It is not impossible to violate the octet rule. Consider sodium: in its elemental form, it has one valence electron and is stable. It is rather reactive, however, and does not require a lot of energy to remove that electron to make the Na+ ion. We could remove another electron by adding even more energy to the ion, to make the Na2+ ion. However, that requires much more energy than is normally available in chemical reactions, so sodium stops at a 1+ charge after losing a single electron. It turns out that the Na+ ion has a complete octet in its new valence shell, the n = 2 shell, which satisfies the octet rule. The octet rule is a result of trends in energies and is useful in explaining why atoms form the ions that they do.

Now consider an Na atom in the presence of a Cl atom. The two atoms have these Lewis electron dot diagrams and electron configurations:

For the Na atom to obtain an octet, it must lose an electron; for the Cl atom to gain an octet, it must gain an electron. An electron transfers from the Na atom to the Cl atom:

resulting in two ions—the Na+ ion and the Cl ion:

Na Valence Electrons

Both species now have complete octets, and the electron shells are energetically stable. From basic physics, we know that opposite charges attract. This is what happens to the Na+ and Cl ions:

where we have written the final formula (the formula for sodium chloride) as per the convention for ionic compounds, without listing the charges explicitly. The attraction between oppositely charged ions is called an ionic bond, and it is one of the main types of chemical bonds in chemistry. Ionic bonds are caused by electrons transferring from one atom to another.

In electron transfer, the number of electrons lost must equal the number of electrons gained. We saw this in the formation of NaCl. A similar process occurs between Mg atoms and O atoms, except in this case two electrons are transferred:

The two ions each have octets as their valence shell, and the two oppositely charged particles attract, making an ionic bond:

Remember, in the final formula for the ionic compound, we do not write the charges on the ions.

What about when an Na atom interacts with an O atom? The O atom needs two electrons to complete its valence octet, but the Na atom supplies only one electron:

The O atom still does not have an octet of electrons. What we need is a second Na atom to donate a second electron to the O atom:

These three ions attract each other to give an overall neutral-charged ionic compound, which we write as Na2O. The need for the number of electrons lost being equal to the number of electrons gained explains why ionic compounds have the ratio of cations to anions that they do. This is required by the law of conservation of matter as well.

Example 3

With arrows, illustrate the transfer of electrons to form calcium chloride from Ca atoms and Cl atoms.


A Ca atom has two valence electrons, while a Cl atom has seven electrons. A Cl atom needs only one more to complete its octet, while Ca atoms have two electrons to lose. Thus we need two Cl atoms to accept the two electrons from one Ca atom. The transfer process looks like this:

The oppositely charged ions attract each other to make CaCl2.

Test Yourself

With arrows, illustrate the transfer of electrons to form potassium sulfide from K atoms and S atoms.

Na Number Of Valence Electrons


The strength of ionic bonding depends on two major characteristics: the magnitude of the charges and the size of the ion. The greater the magnitude of the charge, the stronger the ionic bond. The smaller the ion, the stronger the ionic bond (because a smaller ion size allows the ions to get closer together). The measured strength of ionic bonding is called the lattice energy. Some lattice energies are given in Table 9.1 “Lattice Energies of Some Ionic Compounds.”

Table 9.1 Lattice Energies of Some Ionic Compounds

CompoundLattice Energy (kJ/mol)

Chemistry Is Everywhere: Salt

The element sodium (part [a] in the accompanying figure) is a very reactive metal; given the opportunity, it will react with the sweat on your hands and form sodium hydroxide, which is a very corrosive substance. The element chlorine (part [b] in the accompanying figure) is a pale yellow, corrosive gas that should not be inhaled due to its poisonous nature. Bring these two hazardous substances together, however, and they react to make the ionic compound sodium chloride (part [c] in the accompanying figure), known simply as salt.

Figure 9.1 Sodium + Chlorine = Sodium Chloride

(a) Sodium is a very reactive metal. (b) Chlorine is a pale yellow, noxious gas. (c) Together, sodium and chlorine make sodium chloride—salt—which is necessary for our survival.

Sodium valence electrons

Salt is necessary for life. Na+ ions are one of the main ions in the human body and are necessary to regulate the fluid balance in the body. Cl ions are necessary for proper nerve function and respiration. Both of these ions are supplied by salt. The taste of salt is one of the fundamental tastes; salt is probably the most ancient flavouring known, and one of the few rocks we eat.

The health effects of too much salt are still under debate, although a 2010 report by the US Department of Agriculture concluded that “excessive sodium intake…raises blood pressure, a well-accepted and extraordinarily common risk factor for stroke, coronary heart disease, and kidney disease.” It is clear that most people ingest more salt than their bodies need, and most nutritionists recommend curbing salt intake. Curiously, people who suffer from low salt (called hyponatria) do so not because they ingest too little salt but because they drink too much water. Endurance athletes and others involved in extended strenuous exercise need to watch their water intake so their body’s salt content is not diluted to dangerous levels.

Key Takeaways

  • The tendency to form species that have eight electrons in the valence shell is called the octet rule.
  • The attraction of oppositely charged ions caused by electron transfer is called an ionic bond.
  • The strength of ionic bonding depends on the magnitude of the charges and the sizes of the ions.


  1. Comment on the possible formation of the K2+ ion. Why is its formation unlikely?

  2. Comment on the possible formation of the Cl2− ion. Why is its formation unlikely?

  3. How many electrons does a Ba atom have to lose to have a complete octet in its valence shell?

  4. How many electrons does a Pb atom have to lose to have a complete octet in its valence shell?

  5. How many electrons does an Se atom have to gain to have a complete octet in its valence shell?

  6. How many electrons does an N atom have to gain to have a complete octet in its valence shell?

  7. With arrows, illustrate the transfer of electrons to form potassium chloride from K atoms and Cl atoms.

  8. With arrows, illustrate the transfer of electrons to form magnesium sulfide from Mg atoms and S atoms.

  9. With arrows, illustrate the transfer of electrons to form scandium fluoride from Sc atoms and F atoms.

  10. With arrows, illustrate the transfer of electrons to form rubidium phosphide from Rb atoms and P atoms.

  11. Which ionic compound has the higher lattice energy—KI or MgO? Why?

  12. Which ionic compound has the higher lattice energy—KI or LiF? Why?

  13. Which ionic compound has the higher lattice energy—BaS or MgO? Why?

  14. Which ionic compound has the higher lattice energy—NaCl or NaI? Why?



The K2+ ion is unlikely to form because the K+ ion already satisfies the octet rule and is rather stable.





Na valence electron configuration




MgO because the ions have a higher magnitude charge


MgO because the ions are smaller

  1. US Department of Agriculture Committee for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, “Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” accessed January 5, 2010,↵
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