Finding out if a compound is a strong electrolyte can help you to further differentiate between the different types of chemical bonds that make up compounds and molecules. A strong electrolyte is a compound that dissociates completely into the positive cations and the negative anions in a solution. It conducts electricity well in a solution. A compound can either be a strong electrolyte or a weak electrolyte. It is important to be able to distinguish between them, as they each have different properties.
Determine if the compound is ionic or covalent. The ionic compounds are typically composed of metals and nonmetals. The metals, with the exception of hydrogen, are located to the left of the periodic table, and the nonmetals are located on the right side. An example of an ionic compound is KCl, or potassium chloride. The covalent compounds are typically composed of nonmetals. An example is C2H6, or ethane. If the compound is covalent, then it is probably not a strong electrolyte. Ionic compounds are more likely to be strong electrolytes.
Analyze whether the compound is a strong acid. Strong acids are also strong electrolytes. Compounds that are formed from elements of Group 17, such as HCl, HBr and HI, are strong acids. Other strong acids include H2SO4, HNO3, HClO3 and HClO4.
Examine whether the compound is a strong base. Strong bases are also strong electrolytes. Compounds that are formed with the hydroxide ion, OH-, are typically strong bases. Examples include LiOH, NaOH, KOH, Ca(OH)2 and Ba(OH)2.
Determine whether the compound is formed from an element of Group 1 or 2 with an element of Group 17. Such compounds are typically ionic salts, which are also strong electrolytes. Examples include NaCl and KCl.
Memorize the strong electrolytes that are formed with zinc and copper. Two compounds that are strong electrolytes are the ionic compounds ZnSO4 and CuSO4. If the compound is either one of these, then it is definitely a strong electrolyte.
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