Cations and Anions - Difference Between Anions and Cations

Cations and anions introduction:

Ions which are a part of the science subject Chemistry forms from atoms and electrons that have either gained or lost their weight by the removal or adding of one or more valence electrons which would create either positive or a negative charge. The ions with a negative charge are called anions and the ones with a positive charge are called cations. Since both of them have charges of opposing qualities, they get attracted to one another and thereby forming an ionic bond between them.

Table of Contents

Cations and Anions:

What are cations?

Cations are positively charged ions. They are formed when a metal loses its electrons. They lose one or more than one electron. It has fewer electrons than protons. Therefore, they possess a net positive charge. Some examples of cations are Calcium (Ca2+), Potassium (K+), hydrogen (H+).

What are anions?

Anions are negatively charged ions. They are formed when non-metal gains the electrons. They gain one or more than one electron. Therefore, they possess a net negative charge. Some examples of anions are Iodide (I), chloride (Cl), hydroxide (OH).


When sodium a cation is depicted as Na+, the plus charge indicator shows that it has one electron less than the total number of protons. Thus, sodium having an uneven distribution of electrons and protons enables it to have a  positive charge. Also the element chloride anion Cl- would denote that it has one less proton than the total number of electrons and giving it a minus charge. The difference between Anions and Cations are provided in the table listed below.

Difference Between Anions and Cations

          Basis             Anions       Cations
Definition An anion may be defined as an atom or molecule that is negatively charged. A cation may be defined as an atom or molecule that is positively charged.
Charge Type Negative Positive
Type of Element Non-Metal Metal
Examples Sulfide, Oxide, Fluoride, Chloride Iron, Lead, Sodium

Anions and cations are both ions. They have an opposite electrical charge, therefore they get attracted to each other. Cation repels other cation whereas anion repels another anion. The number of protons is more than the number of electrons in a cation whereas the number of electrons is more than the number of protons in an anion.

The above differences would have given a clear picture of how these two ions that sound alike differ in nature during a chemical reaction in particular.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs


What is the difference between anions and cations?

An anion is a molecule or a group of molecules with one or more negative electric charges. Cations have one or more positive charges attached to them. One or more negative charges are carried by anions. Metal atoms combine to generate cations.


What is the use of cation and anion?

Demineralized water is produced using cation-anion ion exchangers. It is critical that both positively and negatively charged ions are eliminated during this procedure.


Give example of cations

The two most frequent resins used in the ion-exchange process are anion and cation resins. Negatively charged ions are attracted to anion resins, while positively charged ions are attracted to cation resins.


What is an example of anion?

Cl- is an example of an anion. A Cl- atom is a chlorine atom that has gained one electron and hence has a negative charge of -1 since it has a full outer shell.


Is oxygen a cation or anion?

Oxygen is neither a cation or an anion because it has no charge. Oxygen makes up around 20% of the air, and it’s a highly reactive gas. There are various substances that include oxygen, in addition to pure oxygen in the air and pure oxygen dissolved in water. A large number of these molecules break down into ions.

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  1. I want a valency table of elements with positive and negative charge. On your site the table is there but the charge is not mentioned kindly provide the table as soon as possible.
    Thanks & Regards

  2. wow!!!!it’s really easy to understand