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Difference between Polar and Non Polar

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Last updated date: 23rd Apr 2024
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What is Polar and Non Polar: Introduction

Polar Compounds: Polar compounds are molecules that possess an uneven distribution of electric charge due to differences in electronegativity between atoms. This charge separation creates positive and negative poles or ends within the molecule. Polar compounds exhibit strong intermolecular forces, such as hydrogen bonding and dipole-dipole interactions.


Examples of polar compounds include water (H2O), ammonia (NH3), and hydrogen chloride (HCl). 


Nonpolar Compounds: Nonpolar compounds, in contrast, have an even distribution of electric charge and lack significant positive and negative poles. This occurs when atoms within the molecule share electrons equally or have similar electronegativity values. Nonpolar compounds exhibit weaker intermolecular forces, primarily London dispersion forces.


Compounds like hydrocarbons like methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), and oils are non polar in nature. 


Characteristics of Polar and Non Polar

Polarity: The primary difference between polar and non polar compounds lies in their polarity. Polar compounds have an asymmetric distribution of charge, resulting in positive and negative poles, while nonpolar compounds have a symmetrical charge distribution. 


Solubility: Polar compounds are generally soluble in polar solvents, such as water, as they can form hydrogen bonds or dipole-dipole interactions. Nonpolar compounds are soluble in nonpolar solvents, such as hydrocarbons, but are insoluble or have low solubility in polar solvents. 


Boiling and Melting Points: Polar compounds tend to have higher boiling and melting points compared to nonpolar compounds. The stronger intermolecular forces in polar compounds, such as hydrogen bonding, require more energy to break these bonds and change the phase of the substance. 


Electrical Conductivity: Polar compounds can conduct electricity when dissolved in water or in a molten state due to the presence of ions or polar molecules capable of carrying an electric charge. Nonpolar compounds, lacking charged components, do not conduct electricity. 


Intermolecular Forces: Polar compounds exhibit strong intermolecular forces, such as hydrogen bonding and dipole-dipole interactions, which contribute to their higher boiling points and solubility in polar solvents. Nonpolar compounds primarily exhibit weaker London dispersion forces, resulting in lower boiling points and limited solubility in polar solvents. 


Uses and Applications of Polar Compounds and Nonpolar Compounds: 

Polar and nonpolar compounds have distinct properties that make them useful in various applications. Here are some examples of their uses and applications: 


Uses and Applications of Polar Compounds: 

Solvents: Polar solvents, such as water, alcohols, and acetone, are widely used as solvents in chemical reactions, industrial processes, and laboratory experiments. They can dissolve polar solutes and facilitate reactions by providing a medium for molecular interactions.


Pharmaceuticals: Many pharmaceutical drugs are designed to interact with polar molecules in the body. Polar compounds are often used as active ingredients or as solvents for drug formulations, allowing efficient delivery and absorption.


Biological Systems: Polar compounds play a crucial role in biological systems. Water, a polar solvent, is the medium for various biochemical reactions and is essential for life. Polar molecules like proteins and nucleic acids are involved in biological processes, such as enzymatic reactions and genetic information transfer.


Electrolytes: Polar compounds that dissociate into ions when dissolved in water are used as electrolytes. They are vital in batteries, fuel cells, and electrolytic processes, facilitating the conduction of electric current. 


Uses and Applications of Non Polar Compounds:

Solvents: Nonpolar solvents, such as hexane, benzene, and chloroform, are commonly used to dissolve nonpolar substances. They are utilized in extraction processes, cleaning, and in the production of various products, including paints, coatings, and adhesives.


Lubricants: Nonpolar compounds, such as oils and greases, are used as lubricants to reduce friction and wear between moving parts. They provide a protective layer, preventing metal-to-metal contact and ensuring smooth operation.


Insulators: Nonpolar materials, including certain plastics and polymers, have low electrical conductivity and are used as insulators in electrical and electronic applications. They help prevent the flow of electricity and protect sensitive components from damage.


Hydrophobic Coatings: Nonpolar compounds are used to create hydrophobic coatings, which repel water and provide protection against moisture and corrosion. These coatings are applied to surfaces such as fabrics, metals, and electronic devices.


Differences between Polar and Non Polar

Sr. No.

Characteristics

Polar Compounds

Non Polar Compounds 

1

Definition 

Have an uneven distribution of electron density, resulting in positive and negative poles within the molecule

Have an even distribution of electron density, with no significant charge separation

2



Polarity

Exhibit polarity and interact with other polar substances

Do not exhibit polarity and repel or have limited interaction with polar substances

3

Solubility

Dissolve well in polar solvents (e.g., water)

Do not dissolve in water but dissolve in nonpolar solvents (e.g., oil)

4

Examples

Water (H2O), ammonia (NH3), ethanol (C2H5OH)

Methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), oils are non polar in nature

5

Bonding

Polar bonds or an asymmetrical molecular shape

Nonpolar bonds or a symmetrical molecular shape

6

Interactions

Attracted to other polar compounds through intermolecular forces such as hydrogen bonding

Attracted to other nonpolar compounds through van der Waals forces 

7

Electrical Conductivity

Can conduct electricity due to the presence of ions or charged species

Do not conduct electricity as there are no ions or charged species

Summary

Polar and nonpolar compounds are two distinct types of molecules with different characteristics and behaviors. Polar compounds have an uneven distribution of electron density, creating positive and negative poles within the molecule. They interact well with other polar substances, dissolve in polar solvents like water, and play important roles in biological systems and pharmaceuticals.


Nonpolar compounds, on the other hand, have an even distribution of electron density, resulting in no significant charge separation. They do not readily dissolve in water and are often used as solvents for nonpolar substances, lubricants, insulators, and in hydrophobic coatings. Understanding the differences between polar and nonpolar compounds is crucial in various scientific disciplines and industrial applications.

FAQs on Difference between Polar and Non Polar

1. What is the difference between polar and non polar compounds?

Polar compounds have an uneven distribution of electron density, creating positive and negative poles within the molecule. They exhibit polarity and interact with other polar substances. Nonpolar compounds, on the other hand, have an even distribution of electron density, resulting in no significant charge separation. They do not exhibit polarity and tend to repel or have limited interaction with polar substances.

2. How do polar and nonpolar compounds behave in solvents?

Polar compounds dissolve well in polar solvents such as water due to the attraction between their positive and negative charges. Nonpolar compounds, however, do not dissolve in water but readily dissolve in nonpolar solvents like oil or organic solvents.

3. What are some examples of polar and nonpolar compounds?

Examples of polar compounds include water (H2O), ammonia (NH3), and ethanol (C2H5OH). These molecules have polar bonds or an asymmetrical molecular shape. Compounds such as hydrocarbons like methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), and oils are non polar in nature. These compounds have nonpolar bonds or a symmetrical molecular shape.