# Does H3O+ donate a H+ to Water?

Does the hydronium ion donate a proton to water? If the collision of 2 molecules of water can cause a proton to be transferred, does hydronium 'pass' a proton to water?

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$\ce{H3O^+}$ is really just a "shorthand notation" for what really occurs in solution. Typically higher hydrates of the proton, particularly $\ce{H5O2+}$ the "Zundel" cation and $\ce{H7O4+}$ the "Eigen" cation are thought to be the main players in the proton transfer process. As permeakra has pointed out, Grotthuss was one of the early pioneers studying this process and his name is still used to describe the mechanism. The mechanism is still an active area of research with considerable controversy remaining over the details of the mechanism. This reference provides some diagrams of the general process.