# Is CH2O Polar or Nonpolar? (And Why?)

CH2O is a POLAR molecule.

But why?

And how can you say that CH2O is a polar molecule?

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

CH2O is a POLAR molecule because the C=O bond present in the molecule is polar, which causes the partial positive (ẟ+) and partial negative (ẟ-) charge to appear on the molecule. These ẟ+ and ẟ- charges are responsible to make the entire CH2O molecule polar.

Let me explain this in detail with the help of CH2O lewis structure and its 3D geometry.

## Why is CH2O a Polar molecule? (Explained in 2 Steps)

CH2O (or H2CO) is a polar molecule because it has poles of partial positive charge (ẟ+) and partial negative charge (ẟ-) on it.

Let me explain this to you in 2 steps!

### Step #1: Draw the lewis structure

Here is a skeleton of CH2O lewis structure and it contains two C-H bonds and one C=O bond.

(Note: If you want to know the steps of drawing the CH2O lewis dot structure, then visit this article: CH2O lewis structure, Or you can also watch this short 2 minute video).

So from the above diagram we have come to know that the CH2O molecule has two C-H bonds and one C=O bond.

Now in the next step we have to check whether these two C-H bonds and one C=O bond are polar or nonpolar.

And we also have to check the molecular geometry of CH2O.

### Step #2: Check the bond polarity and molecular geometry

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] [5]

Now let’s come to the example of CH2O molecule. It has two C-H bonds and one C=O bond.

You can see the electronegativity values of Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O) atoms from the periodic table given below.

From the above image;

• Electronegativity of Carbon (C) = 2.55 [6]
• Electronegativity of Hydrogen (H) = 2.2 [7]
• Electronegativity of Oxygen (O) = 3.44 [8]

Now let’s see the polarity of each bond.

For C-H bond;
The electronegativity difference (ΔEN) = 2.55 – 2.2 = 0.35
This value is less than 0.4, which indicates that the bond between Carbon (C) and Hydrogen (H) is nonpolar.
Hence, each C-H bond is a nonpolar covalent bond.

For Carbon-Oxygen bond;
The electronegativity difference (ΔEN) = 3.44 – 2.55 = 0.89
This value lies between 0.4 to 1.7, which indicates that the bond between Carbon (C) and Oxygen (O) is polar.
Hence, the Carbon-Oxygen bond is a polar covalent bond.

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

From this, you can easily get the idea that the CH2O molecule is a polar molecule.

But let’s also see its 3D molecular geometry for better understanding.

Have a look at this 3D structure of CH2O. The more electronegative oxygen atom (O) has a tendency to pull the shared electron pair towards itself, which results in partial positive charge on carbon atom (C) and partial negative charge on oxygen atom (O).

Because of this, there are positive and negative poles of charges on the overall molecule of CH2O.

Hence, the CH2O molecule is a polar molecule.

I hope you have understood the reason behind the polar nature of CH2O (or H2CO) molecule.

See the polarity of other molecules to make your concepts clear:
Is XeF4 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is SF6 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is BCl3 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is CHCl3 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is NF3 Polar or Nonpolar?

Author
##### Jay Rana

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.