Why are carbocations positive?

1 Answer
Jun 29, 2016

Because that's how they were defined. Cations are positively-charged, so carbocations are positively-charged carbons.

Carbocation stability goes like this:

  • They form when a leaving group leaves, taking its bonding pair of electrons with it.
  • Assuming an ideal covalent bond, the to-be-formed carbocation would evenly share 1 electron with the rest of the molecule.

When the leaving group leaves, the carbon therefore has a net loss of 1 electron, giving the carbon in the carbocation a #+1# charge.