Which bond is stronger, ionic or covalent? I have a lot of confusion about this.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Tough question because there are too many variables. Also, there is no clear distinction between an ionic bond and a covalent bond. Think about water. The oxygen strips the hydrogen of most of its electron density leaving the nearly naked proton behind. Oxygen has a large negative charge from the gained electron density. This covalent bond is very ionic like and paves the way for the even more 'confusing' hydrogen bond. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2013 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ It would help if you gave some background on the level of your chemistry knowledge. At the level of introductory general chemistry, somewhat arbitrary distinctions are made between ionic and covalent bonding for the sake of simplicity -- distinctions which largely lose their utility later on, since the reality is much more nuanced and complex. $\endgroup$
    – Greg E.
    Dec 18, 2013 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ This document may be a good starting point chem.wisc.edu/deptfiles/genchem/sstutorial/Text7/Tx71/tx71.html But, I have to ask, in what context are you referring to? i.e. dissolving? reactions with specific other types of chemicals? $\endgroup$
    – user4076
    Mar 11, 2014 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ @LordStryker I think that may be a perfectly sufficient answer, and definitely better than the one that's there at present. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Jul 19, 2014 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ There cannot be a meaningful general answer to this question. Even if we assume a clear distinction between ionic and covalent bonds, there are a very wide variety of bond strengths that depend on the specific compounds involved. Some ionic bonds are very weak; some covalent bonds are very strong. You just can't generalise. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Jul 29 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


Covalent and ionic bonds are best thought of as opposite ends of a spectrum, where electrons are shared evenly (as in the case of a symmetric molecule like N2) or unevenly (like HF).

That being said, bonds with more ionic character are generally considered stronger due to the significant electostatic contribution to bonding (the cationic and anionic components experience attraction).

This principle is the core concept of Pauling Electronegativities, where the degree to which electrons in a bond are "attracted" to one atom over the other (that is, the degree to which a bond is ionic) is ultimately derived from experimental bond dissociation energies (i.e. bond strengths).

  • $\begingroup$ If ionic bonds are stronger, why do they tend to dissolve in water? $\endgroup$
    – Dale
    Apr 10, 2015 at 18:10

Ionic bonds are stronger since they're between 2 charged particles and its because of the electrostatic force of attraction between the oppositively charged ions. They have higher melting and boiling points and require more energy than the covalent bonds break. Covalent bonds are as a result of Adams sharing electrons. They can be easily broken into its primary structure as the atoms are close by to share the electron.


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