Is SCN a polar or nonpolar substance?

Thiocyanate is an anion with the symbol SCN-. Cyanosulfanide is the IUPAC name for it. It is regarded as the thiocyanic acid’s conjugate base. Many students are unsure whether or not the SCN- ion is polar. In this post, I will respond to this question and discuss its qualities and applications.

Is SCN polar or nonpolar, then? Because of the uneven electronegativity of sulfur(2.58), carbon(2.55), and nitrogen(2.55), the SCN ion is polar (3.04). The greater electronegative nitrogen attracts the bound electron to its side, giving SCN a partial negative charge and making it a polar molecule.

The chemical formula for thiocyanate, often known as rhodanide, is SCN-. Because nitrogen has a negative charge, it behaves as a base and is less likely to take hydrogen atoms.

Sodium thiocyanate and potassium thiocyanate are two salts formed by the SCN- ion.

Thiocyanate has a molecular mass of 58.08 gmol1. The formula is as follows:

SCN Mol Mass = 1 * 32 (Mol Mass of S) + 1 * 12 (Mol Mass of C) + 1 * 14 (Mol Mass of N = 58.08 gmol1.

One sulphur, one carbon, and one nitrogen atom make up the chemical makeup of this ion.

The carbon atom, being the least electronegative, becomes the centre atom, surrounded on both sides by sulphur and nitrogen atoms.

The Sulfur and Nitrogen atoms cover the Carbon atom, resulting in a linear molecular structure for the SCN- ion.

The – symbol indicates that sulphur accepts one electron to complete its octet, and Carbon establishes a single bond with sulphur.

To stabilise itself, nitrogen forms a triple bond with carbon, resulting in the stable anion [SCN].

Carbon has an electronegativity of 2.55, sulphur has a value of 2.58, and nitrogen has a value of 3.04. The most electronegative element in the SCN molecule is nitrogen.

Nitrogen, as a result, pulls the bound electron pair to one side and develops a partial negative charge.

Apart from electronegativity, it also has a triple covalent bond with carbon, which boosts the negative charge intensity on nitrogen.

Polarity rises across a molecule as the two poles (positive and negative) are created within it.

Molecules: Polar vs. Nonpolar

The interactions between the atoms bond the molecules together. These forces come in a variety of forms, including covalent, ionic, and metallic bonds, among others.

Polar Molecules are those that have Polarity across them. Because of the charge distribution mismatch, these molecules have positive and negative poles.

Such molecules always have a non-zero dipole moment. Its atoms have an uneven charge distribution.

In polar molecules, the electronegativity of the atoms is frequently uneven. HCN, SO2, and other polar compounds are some examples. You can look into the explanation for HCN’s polarity.

Nonpolar molecules, on the other hand, have no poles created across them since their charge distribution is homogeneous.

If the electronegativity of two atoms is equivalent, the bond is said to be non-polar. Furthermore, the geometrical geometries of these molecules are symmetric.

Hexane and SO3 are examples of nonpolar compounds. You can look into the reason behind SO3’s non-polarity.

Why does SCN exist in nature as a nonpolar molecule?

The SCN- ion is made up of one sulphur atom, one carbon atom, and one nitrogen atom. The molecule has a single negative-charged sulfur-carbon bond because sulphur accepts one electron to complete its octet.

And to complete their octet, nitrogen and carbon form a triple bond to share their three electrons. With this electrical arrangement, the ion becomes stable.

Carbon has an electronegativity of 2.55 and sulphur has an electronegativity of 2.58, which is virtually same. The electronegativity of the nitrogen atom, on the other hand, is 3.04.

Because nitrogen is more electronegative, it pulls the bound electron pair to its own side, gaining relative negative charge while leaving a positive charge on other atoms.

Apart from the difference in electronegativity, nitrogen is linked to carbon by a triple bond, which results in a higher charge intensity on the nitrogen atom.

Because of the aforementioned factors, the SCN- molecule is polar.

SCN-Geometrical Structure and Lewis Structure

The electrical arrangement of a molecule is depicted by its Lewis structure. SCN has a total of 16 valence electrons.

S = 6 valence electrons

N = 5 valence electrons

C = 4 valence electrons

SCN has a formal charge of -1.

V = (-1) – (6+5+4) = 16

To complete its octet, carbon and sulphur make a single bond, while nitrogen forms a triple bond with carbon.

The molecule’s geometrical shape is linear, with sulphur and nitrogen at both ends.

The geometrical structure of the SCN- ion is depicted below.

Checking the Polarity: Key Points

To determine if a molecule is polar or not, we must first list and observe the following factors.

Electronegativity: An atom’s electronegativity is the strength with which it can draw electrons to its side. The intensity of negative charge on an atom increases as its electronegativity increases.

As a result, if the electronegativity of atoms forming a covalent connection differs, it ensures polarity across the bond.

In a polar molecule, a higher electronegative atom attracts electrons to its side and forms a negative pole.

The dipole moment of a molecule is a measurement of its polarity. Non-polar molecules always produce a zero dipole moment, whereas polar molecules always produce a non-zero dipole moment.

The letter D stands for it. The charge on atoms is multiplied by the distance between the centres of negative and positive charges.

Geometrical shape: In most circumstances, a molecule’s shape can quickly establish whether it is polar or nonpolar.

Because they have an unequal distribution of charge over their surface, deformed or asymmetric shaped molecules are usually polar in nature.

Symmetric molecules, on the other hand, are polar in nature.

SCN’s properties

Pseudohalogens are a type of pseudohalogen.

Thiocyanate is the thiocyanic acid’s conjugate base.

The molecule’s molecular weight is 58.08 g/mol.

SCN’s Applications

One of the most significant spectrophotometric reagents is thiocyanate ion.

This ion is also used to determine W, Mo, Nb, and Fe (III).

This chemical has been used in medicine for a long time to treat hypertension.

By reducing H2O2, the SCN ion is also used to make hypo thiocyanic acid (HOSCN) (hydrogen peroxide).


One carbon, one sulphur, and one nitrogen atom make up the thiocyanic ion. Among the other atoms in the SCN molecule, the Nitrogen atom has the highest electronegativity.

Because it has a larger electronegative value, it attracts bound electron pairs to its side, gaining partial negative charge while leaving positive charge on adjacent atoms.

Apart from electronegativity, the nitrogen atom is linked to the carbon atom by triple bonds, which enhances the charge intensity on the nitrogen atom, making it the negative pole and making the SCN polar in nature.

Read more: Is H2O2 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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