What Is a Compound? - Combining Elements with Chemical Bonds

What Is a Compound? - Combining Elements with Chemical Bonds
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  • 0:02 What Is a Compound?
  • 1:38 Types of Chemical Bonds
  • 2:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you will be able to explain what a compound is, identify compounds versus regular molecules, and describe the two types of bonding that form compounds. A short quiz will follow.

What Is a Compound?

A compound is a pure chemical substance made of two or more different chemical elements. They contain a fixed ratio of atoms, held together by chemical bonds.

Okay, but first of all, what are atoms? An atom is the basic building block of matter, containing protons and neutrons in a central nucleus and electrons orbiting around the outside. There are many types of atoms. These types are called elements, and their properties vary substantially.


For example, the element hydrogen contains atoms with just 1 proton in the nucleus, while the element polonium contains atoms with a whopping 84 protons in the nucleus.

A compound is where atoms of different types are joined or bonded together in molecules. For example, water is a compound. Water has the chemical name H2O, because it contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom chemically bonded together. H2O is a molecule, and because it contains two different types of atoms, water is also a compound.

But you can get molecules that aren't compounds. For example, oxygen can also bond with other oxygen atoms to form O2 - two oxygen atoms bonded together. This is still a molecule because a molecule is just two or more atoms bonded together. But O2 isn't a compound, because it contains only one type of atom. It contains only one element: oxygen.

Types of Chemical Bonds

The atoms inside compounds can be bonded together in more than one way. The two ways we're going to talk about are ionic bonding and covalent bonding.

Ionic compounds contain ionic bonds, where one or more electrons from one atom have been given to the other, causing the two atoms to stick together. Ionic compounds tend to be crystalline solids, have high melting and boiling points, and can conduct electricity when melted (or dissolved). You probably already have a taste for ionic compounds: sodium and chloride react to form NaCl, otherwise known as table salt.

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