Carbon Valence Electrons (And How to Find them?)

carbon valence electrons

So you have seen the above image by now, right?

Awesome! You can see that carbon has 4 valence electrons.

But how can you say that Carbon has 4 valence electrons
How can you find these valence electrons?

Let’s discuss this in short.

Carbon has 4 valence electrons because there are 4 electrons present in the outermost shell of the Carbon (C) atom.

Now let’s see how you can easily find the valence electrons of Carbon atom (C).

If you don’t want to read the texts, then you can also watch this video.

How to find the Valence Electrons? (2 Methods)

In order to find the valence electrons of Carbon atom (C), you can use two methods.

Method 1: From the Periodic Table

how many valence electrons does carbon have

To find out the valence electrons of Carbon, you have to see the position of carbon in the periodic table.

More specifically, you have to see the group wise position of Carbon element in the periodic table.

From the above image, you can see that the Carbon (C) is present in the group 14 of periodic table.
(Note: Group 14 is also called group 4A).

So, as the carbon element is present in group 14, it has 4 valence electrons.

In this way, by knowing the position of carbon element in periodic table, you can easily find its valence electrons.

Now let’s see another method for finding the number of valence electrons in carbon.

Method 2: From the Electron Configuration

If you want to find the valence electrons of carbon from its electron configuration, then you should know its electron configuration first.

Now there are many methods to write the electron configurations, but here I will show you the easiest method, i.e by using Aufbau principle.

Aufbau principle: The Aufbau principle simply states that the orbitals with the lower energy are filled first and then the orbitals with higher energy levels are filled.

According to the Aufbau principle, the orbitals are filled in the following order:
1s, 2s, 2p, 3s, 3p, 4s, 3d, 4p, 5s, 4d, 5p, 6s, 4f, 5d, 6p, 7s, 5f, 6d, 7p, and so on.

Also the maximum number of electrons that can be accommodated in s, p, d & f orbitals are mentioned in the below table.

OrbitalsMaximum capacity of electrons [1]

Now let’s try to find the electron configuration of Carbon by using the Aufbau principle.

Electron Configuration of Carbon:

Follow the steps mentioned below to get the electron configuration of Carbon.

  • To write the electron configuration of carbon, we should first know the total number of electrons present in a carbon atom.
  • The carbon atom has a total of 6 electrons because its atomic number is 6 and it is a neutral atom. [2] 
  • Now we have to fill these 6 electrons in the atomic orbitals according to the Aufbau principle.
  • According to the Aufbau principle, the electrons will be filled first in 1s orbital, then in 2s orbital, then in 2p orbital, and so on…
  • So from the Aufbau principle, we can get the electron configuration of the carbon atom as 1s2 2s2 2p2. [3]

Now in this electron configuration of carbon, we have to see the total number of electrons present in the highest energy level.

valence electrons in carbon

You can see in the electron configuration of carbon (1s2 2s2 2p2) that the highest energy level is 2. And the total number of electrons present in this energy level is 2 + 2 = 4.

So by knowing the electron configuration, we have found that the Carbon has 4 valence electrons.

I hope you have understood the methods of finding the valence electrons in carbon. 

See more related topics for your practice;
Nitrogen Valence Electrons
Oxygen Valence Electrons
Fluorine Valence Electrons
Neon Valence Electrons
Aluminum Valence Electrons 


Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. With a desire to make learning accessible for everyone, he founded Knords Learning, an online learning platform that provides students with easily understandable explanations.

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