Recently, I saw a video about sodium hydride and it saw it was made up with $\ce{Na+}$ ions and $\ce{H-}$ ions. My problem is: aren't all hydrogen ions positive? And in what conditions can $\ce{H-}$ occur?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Sodium and most other metals have a lower electronegativity than hydrogen. Thus, in metal hydrides the metal transfers an electron to hydrogen leading to a negatively charged hydride ion, $\ce{H-}$, and a positively charged metal ion. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Dec 6, 2014 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ It's negative simply because it has more electrons (2) than protons (1), so the main question is how it can occur. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2014 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ It seems likely that you'd be interested in this; there are actually negative ions of the alkali metals as well, alkalide ions. $\endgroup$ Jan 3, 2015 at 5:04

1 Answer 1


And in what conditions can $\ce{H^{−}}$ occur?

In any phase. The hydride ion however doesn't stick around for long in water since it's such a strong base. First, hydrogen isn't that electronegative to start with, so tacking on an extra electron isn't helping with its stability. Second, combination with an hydrogen proton, $\ce{H+}$, is highly entropically favorable because the product, $\ce{H2}$, is a gas.

The $pK_a$ of $\ce{H2}$ has been estimated to be ~35 so that speaks a lot to the strength of the hydride ion as a base.


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