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What is Water Made of?


A water molecule has three atoms, two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. However, that doesn't quite explain why water has the properties it has: generally with a neutral pH and high boiling point, not to mention being an important ingredient for life on Earth.

water, moleculer
 In order to understand how a water molecule behaves and molecules in general behave when they're put together, we have to look at what's called van der Waals forces. Based off of these interactions between molecules as well as a few other factors including temperature and pressure, we can start to see how water can be so valuable. 

What is van der Waals force? 

A molecule's attraction to other molecules, known as a van der Waals force, is actually the result of electrons. Every molecule is made up of atoms that have empty spaces that are filled by electrons. When two molecules come in contact with one another, they push off against each other with their electrons. This doesn't have much effect on a molecule that's pretty close to one another, but when the distance between molecules increases, the size of the forces increase accordingly. Then, as you move away from each molecule and things get more crowded, the difference between forces start to approach zero. 

A water molecule 

So, since hydrogen has an electron in its outer shell and oxygen has electrons, then those electrons have an effect on the force between them. When the bonds connecting the atoms of two other molecules are stronger than a hydrogen bond, by definition a van der Waals force will exist. Because this is the case, we can see that a molecule can be attractive if it doesn't have as many electrons and attractive if it does. For example, lithium ion is always a strong attractive force between molecules and most metals are less than that. A magnetic field could also be considered a van der Waals force because it does impart a strong attraction between atoms of different types. 

Van der Waals forces between a water molecule and other molecules like oxygen or hydrogen can be calculated. These values show that water is actually the most attracted to itself, but the second most attracted to oxygen molecules. When it comes to how this effect plays out, we can infer that the hydrogen bonds of water will help hold their shape, making them distinct and not so likely to mix with other substances as readily. 

In addition, something like a magnet will always be an attractive force no matter what for every particle near it. Magnetic fields are constantly trying to push off one another in order to get closer together. This causes them to lose energy even though its a constant force acting on objects in its area of influence. 

Van der Waals forces can also be used to determine why water's boiling point is so high. When water reacts with the surrounding air, it looses electrons very quickly. Therefore, it loses those van der Waals interactions with other molecules around it and will start to break apart into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. At this point, water molecules are not held together by these bonds any longer. The molecules will then be in closer reach of other molecules in the air that could interact with them and cause them to break apart as well. As a result, the boiling point of water is determined by the combined effect of all these forces. Once all the hydrogen bonds are broken, water starts to become unstable and boil away quickly. 

Van der Waals forces also have a noticeable effect on the common reactions that occur naturally. For example, in everyday life we tend to think of carbon dioxide as a pollutant because it turns into carbonic acid when it reacts with water vapor. In fact, it does this because van der Waals forces acting on the molecules of water draw them together as well as make them repel each other. Without these interactions between molecules, there would be no repulsion or attraction and therefore no reaction taking place at all. 

Without van der Waals forces acting on the different molecules in our environment, we would have a very different world around us. It is these interactions between molecules of all kinds that allow us to exist and go about our day-to-day lives. 

If you want to get started with water molecule now, why don’t you try out some of our other experiments first? You can start with this simple experiment right here. 

How do Covalent Bonds Help Make Water? 

Covalent bonds are considered a covalent bond because it is made of two atoms that share some electrons. This is a very common type of bond and helps us to understand why we have the world that we do around us. For example, one molecule of water has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. It's called water because the oxygen atom attracts two hydrogen atoms together to form a stable bond. However, this doesn't give us an idea as to why this happens or why it's even valuable. In order to find out, we have to understand how van der Waals forces work as well as how these electrons interact with other atoms. 

As you might imagine, a molecule like oxygen isn't going to be very attracted to another molecule that doesn't share an electron. This is because the oxygen will want to give away its two electrons so it can gain two that the other molecule has. In other words, it wants to match up with the hydrogen molecules so there are equal parts of each atom sharing electrons. 

However, when oxygen has a stable bond with two hydrogen atoms, this isn't true. Oxygen atom donates one of its electrons equally between each hydrogen atom making them both have a charge of positive one and negative one respectively. With these forces acting on oxygen atoms as well as hydrogen atoms, they are held in place by the covalent bonds created. This is why we have water and why it's so valuable to our everyday lives. 

Why does this work? 

The answer lies in van der Waals force. These forces are something that we experience every day and in many different forms. When two molecules are attracted to each other, these van der Waals forces can cause them to stick together. However, they aren't always attractive and they can also be repulsive depending on the distance between them. 

In this case, the atoms of oxygen get pulled toward each other because of their shared electrons and because of the lack of electrons on one side, hydrogen atoms don't want to go there or have electrons pushed onto them from a water molecule nearby. This repulsion from hydrogen is also a result of a van der Waals force, but they are working against the attraction created by oxygen's shared electrons and the covalent bond itself. This is why we have certain reactions that take place in certain ways, depending on what kind of forces act between elements. 

Water has many different properties because of the covalent bonds that you don't find in other elements or compounds. For example, water is found at all points in the earth and it's also regarded as a universal solvent because it can dissolve so many different substances. This is due to its unique chemical structure with complete boundary layers around each molecule, preventing them from interacting with other molecules like they would under normal circumstances.



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