I know it is covalent because there are covalent bonds between atoms of carbon in the same plane. But there are Van der Waals interactions between different planes. Isn't this a feature of molecular solids?

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    $\begingroup$ We think of graphite as being a "pure" chemical which it really isn't since the graphite sheets can have different size. But most pure chemicals have a consistent 3D structure, which graphite does not. So graphite is odd in that sense too. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ You seem to already know what graphite really is. Don't bother with meaningless categorisation such as the one you ask about. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MaxW: I see. $ $ $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ "covalent solid" is of course a very useful category if you compare one with ionic or molecular solids. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


Graphite is odd in its categorisation and does by no means rigorously follow the conventions of either a covalent solid, or a molecular solid (for example it can conduct electricity). Graphite has properties of both molecular solids (it is soft), and covalent solids (it has a very high melting point. In fact it will break down before it melts.).

For this reason, the categorisation of some materials, such as graphite, can be somewhat complicated, and the idea of graphite being a covalent solid really just comes from its similarity with other covalent solids.


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