A sodium atom has one outer electron, and a carbon atom has four outer electrons. How might this difference be related to the types of compounds formed by atoms of these two elements?

1 Answer
Aug 9, 2017

Answer:

Well, we might reasonably expect that the sodium atom would be easily oxidized..........

Explanation:

#Na(s) rarr Na^(+) + e^(-)#

This loss of a valence electron is fairly facile, and in fact salts containing the #Na^+# are legion.....and this inludes the salt we use to season our fish and chips....

On the other hand, oxidation of carbon to give a #C^(4+)# ion (i.e. removal of all its valence electrons) would be energetically unlikely.....The four valence electrons assigned to carbon are more likely to be shared between atoms to form covalent bonds, i.e. #C-H#, #C-C#, #C-O#, #C-N#, #C-X# etc....

And of course carbon can also unsaturated bonds, #C=N#, #C=O#, #C=C#...........

And so sodium will tend to form ionic compounds, whereas carbon will tend to form molecular, covalent compounds.