What is difference between $\ce{H+}$ and a proton?

  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Do you think there should be any difference? $\endgroup$ – bon Sep 8 '15 at 20:27

There is no chemical difference, only a psychological one: how do you think about it. They are both the same thing, but many people associate $\ce{H+}$ ions with chemical reactions and protons with particle physics. A hydrogen atom has one electron and a proton, no neutron. Therefore $\ce{H+}$ is just a proton.

That is why acids are sometimes referred as proton donors as they donate $\ce{H+}$ to a base (also known as proton acceptor).

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Yes, and also H+ makes me think more about the solvated proton. For instance, in chemical reactions where what shows up in equations as H+ is really H3O+, etc. Using the word proton emphasizes the physics over chemistry, thus it would be odd to refer to proton NMR as H+ NMR, again, that would be 'correct' but confusing. $\endgroup$ – AlaskaRon Sep 14 '15 at 5:18
  • $\begingroup$ This answer is good and valid in the narrow (but common) case where $\ce{H}$ refers to $_1^{1}\ce{H}$ only (with $\ce{D}$ equalling $^2_1\ce{H}$ and $\ce{T}$ for $^3_1\ce{H}$). This means that in terms of molar mass, there is a difference between the case just outlined and the concept of $\ce{H}$ for hydrogen as an element with different isotopes. $\endgroup$ – TAR86 Dec 19 '17 at 17:20

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