I understand that positive ions usually move towards the negative electrode and gain back their electron(s). But how is this considered as the positive ions helping to conduct electricity?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Same as negative ions do. $\endgroup$ Jan 17 at 11:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Two things that may help you: (1) the 'electricity' you mention is exactly the motion of the ions across the electrolytic solution, they are the same thing, (2) what 'helps/not helps' conducting the electricity is the potential differences established across the interfaces in an electrochemical cell; no potential differences and we get no movement of ions, huge potential differences and we get huge density currents. You may get some ohmic loss in the bulk of the electrolytic solution, that will affect the movement too. $\endgroup$ Jan 17 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ You might look at: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/144010/… $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn
    Jan 17 at 12:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As an external macroscopic observer, how to you distinguish a positive charge moving to the right from a negative charge moving to the left? They both yield the same net charge flow (i.e. current). $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 17 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


A definition of conduction is "moving charges from one place to another." Positive ions are charged particles. They move. That is conduction.

As an aside, in metals, conduction is like the action in Newton's cradle. Electrons bump other electrons, rather than each migrating the whole distance; the drift velocity is far slower than the speed of signal propagation. The same can be true of ions in liquids, but ions in a rarefied gas may travel the whole distance.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.