What is Hydrogen? - Formula, Production & Uses

Instructor: John Williams
Hydrogen is the lightest naturally occurring element, and is important in many biological, chemical, and industrial processes. This article discusses hydrogen, its properties, and some of its many uses.


Elements are chemicals that cannot be broken down into simpler substances through chemical means. These chemicals contain only one type of atom, the smallest units of matter. Elements include simple substances that we all recognize, such as gold, and many unfamiliar substances, such as ytterbium. Many of these elements can be combined to make molecules - chemicals containing two or more atoms.

One of the most common types of atoms found in molecules is hydrogen. The chemical structure of hydrogen and its elemental properties makes it a major participant in molecule formation. Let's take a look at hydrogen, its properties, and some of the uses that hydrogen has.

An Atom of Hydrogen

Atoms have three parts: protons (which are positively charged), neutrons (which have no charge), and electrons (which are negatively charged). The nucleus, or core, of the atom contains protons and neutrons. Electrons are found orbiting the nucleus of an atom, and are the portions of the atom that participate in molecule formation. Hydrogen is composed of only one proton and one electron, and no neutrons. Hydrogen has the ability to share its lone electron with other atoms, and therefore, it is able to form a bond (shared electron pair) with other reactive atoms.

The formula for elemental hydrogen is H2.

Hydrogen Atom with a Proton and Electron
hydrogen atom

Properties of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is found naturally as a diatomic molecule, which is a molecule with two atoms. It is usually a gas, which is a state of matter that no defined volume or shape. It has a very low boiling point (-423 degrees Fahrenheit), which is why it is hard to find hydrogen in a naturally occurring liquid form. It has an atomic weight of 1, which is due to its single proton in the nucleus. Hydrogen has no color, odor, or taste.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account