Is CCl4 Polar or Nonpolar? (And Why?)

Is CCl4 Polar or Nonpolar

CCl4 (Carbon tetrachloride) is a NONPOLAR molecule.

But why? 

And how can you say that CCl4 is a nonpolar molecule?

Want to know the reason?
Let’s dive into it!

CCl4 (or Carbon tetrachloride) is a NONPOLAR molecule because all the four bonds (C-Cl bonds) are identical and CCl4 has symmetrical geometry which cancels out the bond polarity.

Let me explain this in detail with the help of CCl4 lewis structure and its 3D geometry.

Why is CCl4 a Nonpolar molecule? (Explained in 3 Steps)

CCl4 is a nonpolar molecule because it does not have any pole of positive charge and negative charge on it.

Let me explain this to you in 3 steps!

Step #1: Draw the lewis structure

Here is a skeleton of CCl4 lewis structure and it contains four C-Cl bonds.

Is CCl4 Polar or Nonpolar

(Note: If you want to know the steps of drawing the CCl4 lewis dot structure, then visit this article: CCl4 lewis structure, Or you can also watch this short 2 minute video).

So from the above diagram we have come to know that the CCl4 molecule has four C-Cl bonds.

Now in the next step we have to check whether these four C-Cl bonds are polar or nonpolar.

Step #2: Check whether individual bonds are polar or nonpolar

The chemical bonds can be either nonpolar, polar or ionic depending on the difference of the electronegativity values (ΔEN) between the two atoms.

Have a look at the above image.

  • If the electronegativity difference (ΔEN) is less than 0.4, then the bond is nonpolar covalent bond.
  • If the electronegativity difference (ΔEN) is between 0.4 to 1.7, then the bond is polar covalent bond. 
  • If the electronegativity difference (ΔEN) is greater than 1.7, then the bond is an ionic bond. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Now let’s come to the example of CCl4 molecule. It has four C-Cl bonds.

You can see the electronegativity values of Carbon (C) and Chlorine (Cl) atoms from the periodic table given below.

From the above image;

  • Electronegativity of Carbon (C) = 2.55 [5]
  • Electronegativity of Chlorine (Cl) = 3.16 [6]

Now let’s see the polarity of each bond.

For C-Cl bond;
The electronegativity difference (ΔEN) = 3.16 – 2.55 = 0.61
This value lies between 0.4 to 1.7, which indicates that the bond between Carbon (C) and Chlorine (Cl) is polar.
Hence, each C-Cl bond is a polar covalent bond.

Is CCl4 Polar or Nonpolar

You can see in the above image that because of electronegativity difference, the partial positive charge (ẟ+) appears on the Carbon atom (C) and partial negative charge (ẟ-) appears on the Chlorine atoms (Cl).

But wait, this alone won’t tell you whether the entire CCl4 molecule is polar or nonpolar.

So let’s proceed to the next step to check the symmetry of the CCl4 molecule.

Step #3: Check whether the molecule is symmetric or not

Have a look at this 3D structure of CCl4. You can see that the structure of CCl4 is symmetrical. 

The carbon atom is at the center and it is surrounded by 4 chlorine atoms which are equidistant as well as at equal angles.

Is CCl4 Polar or Nonpolar

As all the four bonds (C-Cl) are symmetrical and the CCl4 molecule has a symmetrical geometry, their bond polarity gets canceled with each other.

Because of this, there are no positive and negative poles of charges on the overall molecule of CCl4.

Hence, the CCl4 molecule is a nonpolar molecule.

I hope you have understood the reason behind the nonpolar nature of CCl4 molecule.

See the polarity of other molecules to make your concepts clear:
Is CH4 (Methane) Polar or Nonpolar?
Is H2O (Water) Polar or Nonpolar?
Is SO2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is CS2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is Hydrogen Chloride (HCl) Polar or Nonpolar? 


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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