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Fundamental question on ions: If, for instance, $\ce{Na}$ and $\ce{Cl}$ react to produce $\ce{NaCl}$ salt, then $\ce{Na^+}$ and $\ce{Cl^-}$ are obviously formed. What I don't understand is, for example, if this compound ($\ce{NaCl}$) is broken down by water, do the $\ce{Na}$ and $\ce{Cl}$ atoms retain their character of ions (remain $\ce{Na+}$ and $\ce{Cl-}$) or do they convert back to neutral $\ce{Na}$ and $\ce{Cl}$ atoms with no charge?

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    $\begingroup$ They float around as Na+ and Cl-. Why would they convert back? Neutral sodium reacts with water, and that quite violently. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Aug 30 '16 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ public.asu.edu/~laserweb/woodbury/classes/chm341/lecture_set6/… $\endgroup$ – Another.Chemist Aug 30 '16 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ @IvanNeretin first time taking chem bro. How is this a bad rating of a question? Lack of knowledge and i get a negative rating? Lmao $\endgroup$ – Atticus283blink Aug 30 '16 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Ignacio We have the mhchem package installed, i.e. chemistry markup. That'll make future edits a bit easier for you. If you want to know more, please have a look here and here. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Aug 31 '16 at 5:54
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    $\begingroup$ Well $\ce{Na+}$ and $\ce{Cl^{-}}$ ions don't really float around as simple ions in an aqueous solution. Since water is polar (has a + and - orientation) the ions attract oriented water molecules into a cluster around the ions. The first "layer" of water molecules will be highly oriented, the second layer less so, and this continues until the number of layers is so great that the water molecules are randomly oriented with respect to the ion. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Aug 31 '16 at 6:10
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They remain as ions, it takes energy to reduce $Na^{+}$ and oxidate $Cl^{-}$.

$$\ce{Na+(aq) + e– -> Na(s)} \space \Delta E -2.714$$

For oxidating $Cl^{-}$:

$$ \ce{2 Cl–(aq) -> Cl2(g) + 2 e–} \space \Delta E -1.358$$

However solvation structure of Na+ is quite difficult to predict so what you have eventually are hydration structures. J. Chem. Theory Comput., 2012, 8 (10), pp 3526–3535

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