Is Toluene (C6H5CH3) Polar or Nonpolar? (And Why?)

Is Toluene polar or nonpolar

Toluene (or C6H5CH3) is a NONPOLAR molecule.

But why? 

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

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

Toluene (or C6H5CH3) is a NONPOLAR molecule because all the individual bonds are nonpolar.
In other words, the electronegativity difference of these bonds is very less. Hence the toluene molecule is a nonpolar molecule.

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

Why is Toluene a Nonpolar molecule? (Explained in 2 Steps)

Toluene 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 just 2 steps!

Step #1: Draw the lewis structure

Here is a skeleton of toluene lewis structure and it contains Carbon-Carbon bonds and Carbon-Hydrogen bonds.

Is Toluene polar or nonpolar

Now in the next step we have to check whether these 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 a toluene molecule. It has Carbon-Carbon bonds as well as Carbon-Hydrogen bonds.

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

From the above image;

  • Electronegativity of Carbon (C) = 2.55 [5]
  • Electronegativity of Hydrogen (H) = 2.2 [6]

Now let’s see the polarity of each bond.

For Carbon-Carbon bond;
The electronegativity difference (ΔEN) = 2.55 – 2.55 = 0 
This value is less than 0.4, which indicates that the C=C is nonpolar.
Hence, the C=C bond is a nonpolar covalent bond.

For Carbon-Hydrogen 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 Carbon-Hydrogen bond is a nonpolar covalent bond.

As Carbon-Carbon bonds and Carbon-Hydrogen bonds are nonpolar, there will not be any partial positive charge (ẟ+) or partial negative charge (ẟ-) on the carbon and hydrogen atoms.

From this, you can easily say that the toluene molecule is a nonpolar molecule.

I hope you have understood the reason behind the nonpolar nature of toluene (or C6H5CH3) molecule.

See the polarity of other molecules to make your concepts clear:
Is PBr5 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is SiO2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is SBr2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is CHF3 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is SeF4 Polar or Nonpolar?

Author

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 chemistry learning platform that provides students with easily understandable explanations.

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