NaClO2 Structure & Characteristics (15 Important Facts)

NaClO2 structure designated as sodium chlorite is an ionic compound with a unique structural formation. Let us throw light on NaClO2 structure in a detailed manner.

NaClO2 or Sodium chlorite an ionic compound formed by Na+ ion and ClO2ion. Here ClO2anion is formed by sharing electrons. Hence NaClO2 structure is a combination where the whole structure is formed by transference of charges and the individual ion is formed by covalency.

NaClO2 has many uses as a chemical reagent in organic reactions and as a bleaching agent in the textile and paper industry. It has historic significance as a disinfectant during public crises in the USA. Let us emphasize the bonding and electronic properties of NaClO2 like shape, hybridization, solubility, polarity, etc.

How to draw NaClO2 structure?

For drawing NaClO2 structure it is important to understand what kind of bonding it is representing. Let us describe the various steps required to draw structure.

Step1: Counting the total number of valence electrons

The first step in any structure formation is looking out for the valence electrons involved in bonding. NaClO2 structure is formed by 2 ions. So, Na has 1 valence electrons and ClO2 has 19 valence electrons. Hence the total electrons involved are 20.

Step2: Checking the central atoms

The concept of the central atom does not prevail in ionic compounds because in them only 2 ionic entities are involved. In the NaClO2 structure, there is no central atom and it involves two ionic species with different charges held together due to electronegativity differences.

Step3: Fulfilling the stability criteria

The third step is to make sure that the structure can align with the octet’s stability. Na has 1 valence electron and ClO2 as an oxo anion is unstable due to the lack of 1 electron according to its formal charge. So, Na being metal will donate its 1 electron which will be attracted by ClO2, and this will complete the stability.

Step4: Formal charge for confirmation of stability

Formal charge calculation is the final step of any structure formation to confirm its existence. NaClO2 structure has 0 formal charges in totality. Na+ is an ion and has a +1 formal charge. ClO2 has a -1 formal charge. So, the total formal charge becomes 0.

sodium chloride
NaClO2 structure representation

NaClO2 structure shape

The shape of the structure is always observed in covalent compounds. Let us check the shape of the NaClO2.

In the NaClO2, there is no overall shape. This is because Na+ is a monovalent ion. But ClO2 ion has a shape because it is formed by covalent bonding. Its shape is angular. Usually, the correct representation of NaClO2 structure shape is by showing the attachment of sodium ions with the angular chlorine dioxide oxo anion.

3d model 1
NaClO2 structure 3D shape representation

NaClO2 structure formal charge

Formal charge calculation confirms the existence of the structure. Let us find out the same in NaClO2.

The formal charge of the NaClO2 is 0. It is calculated by the formula

Formal charge = No. of valence electrons – No. of nonbonding electrons – Bonding electrons/2

  • Formal charge of Na in NaClO2 = +1
  • Formal charge of Cl in NaClO2 = 7 – 4 – 6/2 = 0
  • The formal charge of O in NaClO2 = -1 due to the presence of 1 free electron
  • Overall formal charge of NaClO2 = +1 + 0 -1 = 0

NaClO2 structure angle

Bond angles are very much related to the shape of the molecule. Let us discuss angles in the NaClO2 structure.

NaClO2 structure does not have a bond angle because here the structure is not held together by bonds, instead, it is held together by the electron charge density cloud which does not have a defined angle.

ClO2 ion in NaClO2 structure is formed by covalent bonding by sharing electrons. So, its bond angle is approximately 118 degrees.

NaClO2 structure octet rule

The octet rule is the stability criteria followed by main group elements which result in the formation of various structures. Let us discuss the octet rule in the NaClO2.

NaClO2 do follow octet rule criteria. Na has 1 valence electron and ClO2 is formed by covalency but the structure as such does not follow formal charge. So, Na loses its 1 electron which is gained by ClO2 thereby completing the criteria.

NaClO2 structure lone pairs

Lone pairs of electrons are very important although they do not participate in bonding but influence various bonding properties. Let us check for lone pairs in the NaClO2.

NaClO2 has no lone pair of electrons because of its type of bonding. It is an ionic compound where there is donation and acceptance of electrons according to the octet criteria which results in charged species. Hence the lone pair concept is not valid.

NaClO2 valence electrons

Valence electron counting in compounds like NaClO2 is complex because of the involvement of 2 types of bonding. Let us check the same.

The total number of valence electrons in NaClO2 is 20. They are calculated by adding the electrons in Na and the individual atoms in ClO2.

  • Valence electrons in Na in NaClO2 = 1
  • Valence electrons in Cl in NaClO2 = 7
  • Valence electrons in O in NaClO2 = 6
  • Total number of valence electrons in NaClO2 = 1 + 7 + 2(6)
  • Hence the total number of valence electrons in NaClO2 is 20.

NaClO2 hybridization

Hybridization is the intermixing of the orbitals to form hybrid orbitals with different sets of properties. Let us figure out hybridization in NaClO2.

NaClO2 does not exhibit hybridization because it is an ionic compound, unlike covalent and coordination compounds. As there is shifting of electrons instead of sharing so bonds are held together by the electric charge.

But the anionic entity of NaClO2, ClO2does show sp3 hybridization as it is formed by one single and double covalent bonds which require 4 hybrid orbitals. So overall NaClO2 does not show hybridization, but its anion does have hybridization.

Is NaClO2 solid or liquid?

The state of matter of any structural moiety depends on the crystal lattice arrangement of the individual atoms. Let us discuss the state of matter in the case of NaClO2.

NaClO2 can exist in both solid and liquid states, but the solid or anhydrous form is commonly found because of its extreme stability properties.  NaClO2 is a crystalline, white-colored solid with a yellowish tint due to trace iron residues during preparation. It also has a flaky texture.

Is NaClO2 soluble in water?

The solubility of any compound in water depends on its bonding and intermolecular forces. Let us discuss solubility in NaClO2.

NaClO2 is soluble in water because it is an ionic and charged species that can easily penetrate the bonds of the water molecule. Its solubility in water keeps on increasing with the temperature. NaClO2 also exists in an anhydrous form which can show stability for a long period.

Is NaClO2 polar or nonpolar?

Polarity is based on the separation of charges within the chemical groups which generate the dipole moment. Let us discuss polarity in NaClO2.

NaClO2 is polar because it is made of ionic entities which have opposite charges namely Na+ and ClO2. Due to these, there is a distribution of electric charges across the bond which results in a net dipole moment.

Is NaClO2 a molecular compound?

Molecularity and covalency are synonymous with one another. Let us discover whether NaClO2 is a molecular compound or not.

NaClO2 is not a molecular compound because it is not formed by sharing of electrons and does not form covalent bonds. Here there is donation and acceptance of electrons by Na and ClO2 respectively.

Though NaClO2 is not molecular, the chlorite counterion formation is by the covalent sharing of electrons. Hence overall NaClO2 is not molecular, but its anion ClO2 shows molecularity.

Is NaClO2 acid or base?

Certain compounds have a fluid approach to the determination of the acid and base character where changes in the pH affect the structures. Let us discuss how NaClO2 exhibits this behavior.

NaClO2 is a basic salt because of its stability at higher pH levels experimentally. At pH 5.0 it shows slow decomposition and above pH 7.0 it is completely stable. At lower pH levels of 3.5-4, it easily decomposes to ClO2 and ClO3. Hence stability at higher pH levels is an indication of its basicity.

Is NaClO2 an electrolyte?

An electrolyte is a medium that can uphold conducting ions and their movements. Let us check whether NaClO2 is an electrolyte or not.

NaClO2 is an electrolyte because of its easy solubility in water. Many research papers have shown NaClO2 as a potential catalytic electrolyte in reactions involving CeO2, WO3, and RuO2 as electrodes in electrochemical reactions to obtain ClO2 at different temperatures and concentrations.

Is NaClO2 a salt?

Salt is formed by the neutralization reaction between an acid and a base. Let us find out whether NaClO2 stands on this criterion or not.

NaClO2 is a salt because it is formed by the typical acid-base reaction. It is a white inorganic sodium salt that is formed by the reaction with the chlorite counterion. Apart from that it is flaky in texture and is prepared at 80% concentration responsible for its extreme reactivity.

Is NaClO2 ionic or covalent?

Bonding in compounds is related to the mode of transference of electrons. Let us figure out the same in NaClO2.

NaClO2 exhibits ionic bonding because there is the transference of electrons which is governed by the difference in charge densities of the ionic entities. Na donates 1 electron which is gained by ClO2 resulting in ionic bonds. Though ClO2 is covalent, the overall structure is ionic.


In a nutshell, NaClO2 is a combination structure where the overall structure is ionic, but its anionic entity ClO2 is formed by covalent bonding. Like any other ionic compound, NaClO2 follows the octet rule and exhibits physical properties of polarity, electrolysis, solubility, etc.

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