Is CH2Cl2 a polar or a nonpolar compound?

Dichloromethane (CH2Cl2), often known as methylene chloride or dichloromethane, is a clear, colourless, volatile liquid with a mildly pleasant odour. It comes from volcanoes and macro algae in nature. Despite the fact that it is not miscible with water, it is utilised as a solvent in many chemical reactions. Many pupils are undecided about whether it is polar or nonpolar. In this essay, we’ll look at the underlying causes for it.

Is CH2Cl2 nonpolar or polar? Because of its tetrahedral geometrical structure and the difference in electronegativity of the Carbon, Hydrogen, and Chlorine atoms, CH2Cl2 is a polar molecule. This creates a dipole moment across the C-Cl and C-H bonds, resulting in a net 1.67 D dipole moment for the entire molecule.

Methyl chloride is mostly created by industrial emissions. It’s made by heating methane to 400–500 degrees Celsius and treating it with chlorine.

The chemical processes that occur during the formation of CH2Cl2 are listed below.

CH4      +       Cl2      —–heat——–>      CH3Cl      +     HCl
CH3Cl      +       Cl2     ———heat——>     CH2Cl2      +    HCl

What is the difference between Polar and Non-Polar Molecules?

There are a few crucial factors in the subtopic that we will examine below in order to determine and distinguish the polar or nonpolar state of a molecule.

Let’s start with a basic understanding of polar and nonpolar molecules.

Molecules with an unequal number of shared bonded electrons are known as polar molecules. This demonstrates that the electronegativity of atoms varies.

The higher electronegative atom pulls the shared bound electrons to its side, gaining a partial negative charge, whereas the other atom acquires a partial positive charge.

This difference in electronegativity creates a net dipole moment across the connection, causing it to become polar.

When it comes to molecular geometry, the shape of polar molecules is typically symmetrical or distorted.

HBr, SO2, and other polar compounds are examples. You can look into the explanation for HBr’s polarity.

The electronegativity gap between the atoms in polar molecules is 0.5 to 1.6, according to most reputable books. If the electronegativity difference is less than 0.5 or greater than 1.6, the bond is nonpolar.

When two atoms have unequal electronegativity, the element with the higher electronegativity pulls the shared bound electrons closer to its side.

As a result, the atom with the highest electronegativity has a higher electron density, while other atoms have a lower electron density.

The degree of polarity varies from element to element; some are only slightly polar, while others are extremely polar.

Nonpolar Molecules: Nonpolar molecules are those in which the atoms share an equal fraction of the shared bound electron.

In such atoms, no opposite poles form. Such molecules have a symmetrical form.

It’s possible that a nonpolar molecule has polar bonds, but the dipoles of these polar bonds cancel each other out due to the symmetric form.

It simply means that nonpolar molecules are generated when atoms share a polar bond configuration in which their electric charges cancel out.

Nonpolar compounds include XeF2, CO2, and others. You can look into the reason for XeF2’s non-polarity.

Nonpolar are all inert gases and homonuclear diatomic compounds.

It is important to review basic chemical vocabulary such as electronegativity, dipole moment, geometry, and structure of the molecule in order to determine the polarity and non-polarity of the compounds.

Chemistry’s Most Important Terminology

Electronegativity: The term electronegativity refers to an atom’s ability to attract an electron pair to one side of the atom.

This gives a clearer picture of the electronic arrangement of atoms in a molecule.

The bigger the value of an atom’s electronegativity, the stronger its influence on electrons is.

With higher electronegativity, electrons in a polar bond are pushed closer to the atom.

As a result, a partially negative charge is added to the higher electronegative atom. The electron distribution throughout the molecule becomes increasingly polarised as the difference in electronegativity grows.

The electronegativity of an element increases from left to right and drops down a group, according to the periodic table.

As a result, the elements on the right tend to have the largest electronegativities, making the halogen group the most electronegative.

Metals have lower electronegativities than other elements, and group 1 metals have the lowest.

A dipole moment is the second fundamental factor in determining the polarity of a chemical connection between two atoms in a molecule.

It determines how well negative and positive charges are separated in a system.

The dipole moment of a molecule is defined as the product of the charge magnitude on atoms and the distance between their centres in mathematics.

The polarity of a molecule is also determined by the geometry of the molecule. The overall centre of overlapping positive and negative charges determines whether a complex molecule is polar or non-polar.

If a molecule is entirely symmetric, the dipole moments on each molecule cancel out, resulting in a nonpolar molecule.

If a molecule’s structure is not symmetrical, it is said to be polar.

Checking the polarity of a compound’s key points

By measuring the electronegativity of atom bonding, the strength of polarity can be assessed.

The structure and geometry of the molecules can be used to determine polarity.

Dipole moments are also significant in determining a compound’s polarity.

Why is CH2Cl2 classified as a polar molecule?

When compared to C-H bonds, C-Cl bonds are more polar.

The attraction of electrons from hydrogen atoms towards the chlorine atom causes an unequal distribution of charges because hydrogen atoms have a lower electronegativity than chlorine atoms.

Because chlorine attracts electrons, one side of dichloromethane is somewhat positive while the other is negative.

The electronegativity of the bonded atoms is used to determine the polarity of the connection.

The electronegativity of all bonding atoms in dichloromethane is as follows:

Hydrogen has a mass of 2.2, carbon has a mass of 2.5, and chlorine has a mass of 3.1.

So there’s a difference in electronegativity between C-H=0.3 and C-Cl=0.6. It proves that CH2Cl2 is polar, albeit a modest polar, because the electronegativity difference between them is fairly minor.

The CH2Cl2 molecule contains a total of 20 valence electrons. Carbon has four valence electrons, hydrogen only one, and chlorine has seven valence electrons.

So there are 20 valence electrons in total: 41+12+7*2=20.

Two bonds with two hydrogen atoms and two bonds with two chlorine atoms are formed by both carbon atoms in the middle. Eight valence electrons out of a total of 20 are involved in bond formation.

Because the centre carbon atom is hybridised to make all four bonds, the bonds generated in dichloromethane are covalent. Carbon atoms hybridise in an sp3 way.

With sp3 hybridization, the carbon atom is positioned at the heart of the CH2Cl2 chemical arrangement. The compound CH2Cl2 has a tetrahedral geometry and a trigonal pyramidal form.

Dichloromethane has a variety of uses.

It’s utilised as a solvent to remove paint or varnish coatings from a range of surfaces and for bathtub restoration because it’s so volatile.

It’s used to spray paint and insecticides in the aerosol business.

The most common application is to decaffeinate coffee beans and tea leaves in the food business.

It’s used in the food and beverage industry to prepare spices and other flavourings.

It is utilised as a solvent in the pharmaceutical industry.

To create steroids, vitamins, and antibiotics, CH2Cl2 is used to extract compounds from plants.

CH2Cl2 is used to clean medical equipment without corroding it or causing it to overheat.

CH2Cl2 is used as an ink diluter.

Metal surfaces, aeroplane components, railway tracks, and equipment are all degreased with dichloromethane.

Used to remove gaskets and prepare metal parts for replacement gaskets in automotive applications.

The vapour of CH2Cl2 is used in the automotive industry to clean oils and grease from vehicle transistor parts.

Synthetic fibres and photographic films are both made with dichloromethane.

CH2Cl2 side effects

It is noncombustible, yet it releases poisonous phosgene gases at high temperatures.

It is quite toxic in nature, therefore use it with caution.

The eyes, throat, and nose become irritated.

It causes a disturbance in the nerve system.

Handling CH2Cl2 Precautions

Wear an apron and protective gear with full sleeves.

Wear footwear that covers your entire foot.

Wear your PPE equipment, goggles, and safety gloves at all times.

Make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated location.

It should be kept in a cool, dry place in tightly sealed and labelled containers because it is highly volatile.

And it should be stored away from metals, light, and any heat or ignition source.


In summary, we discovered that CH2Cl2 is polar for the following reasons:–

It has a trigonal pyramidal form.

The compound has a tetrahedral geometry.

C-H and C-Cl have dipole moments that do not cancel.

C-H and C-Cl have 0.4 and 0.6 electronegativity, respectively.

Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and inhaling can all result in cancer, headaches, mental disorientation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and exhaustion.

Read more: Is CHCl3 a polar or nonpolar substance?

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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