Lewis Structure of CFCl3 (With 6 Simple Steps to Draw!)

Lewis Structure of CFCl3

Ready to learn how to draw the lewis structure of CFCl3?


Here, I have explained 6 simple steps to draw the lewis dot structure of CFCl3 (along with images).

So, if you are ready to go with these 6 simple steps, then let’s dive right into it!

Lewis structure of CFCl3 contains a single bond between the Carbon-Fluorine atom and Carbon-Chlorine atoms. The Carbon atom (C) is at the center and it is surrounded by 3 Chlorine atoms (Cl) and 1 Fluorine atom (F). The Carbon atom does not have a lone pair while the chlorine & fluorine atoms have three lone pairs each.

Let’s draw and understand this lewis dot structure step by step.

(Note: Take a pen and paper with you and try to draw this lewis structure along with me. I am sure you will definitely learn how to draw lewis structure of CFCl3).

6 Steps to Draw the Lewis Structure of CFCl3

Step #1: Calculate the total number of valence electrons

Here, the given molecule is CFCl3. In order to draw the lewis structure of CFCl3, first of all you have to find the total number of valence electrons present in the CFCl3 molecule.
(Valence electrons are the number of electrons present in the outermost shell of an atom).

So, let’s calculate this first.

Calculation of valence electrons in CFCl3

  • For Carbon:

Carbon is a group 14 element on the periodic table. [1]

Hence, the valence electrons present in carbon is 4 (see below image).

  • For Fluorine: 

Fluorine is a group 17 element on the periodic table. [2]

Hence, the valence electrons present in fluorine is 7 (see below image).

  • For Chlorine:

Chlorine is a group 17 element on the periodic table. [3]

Hence, the valence electron present in chlorine is 7 (see below image).

Hence in a CFCl3 molecule, 

Valence electrons given by Carbon (C) atom = 4
Valence electrons given by Fluorine (F) atom = 7
Valence electrons given by each Chlorine (Cl) atom = 7
So, total number of Valence electrons in CFCl3 molecule = 4 + 7(3) + 7 = 32

Step #2: Select the center atom

While selecting the center atom, always put the least electronegative atom at the center.

(Remember: Fluorine is the most electronegative element on the periodic table and the electronegativity decreases as we move right to left in the periodic table as well as top to bottom in the periodic table). [4]

Here in the CFCl3 molecule, if we compare the carbon atom (C), fluorine atom (F) and chlorine atom (Cl), then carbon is less electronegative.

So, carbon should be placed in the center and the remaining fluorine and chlorine atoms will surround it.

step 1

Step #3: Put two electrons between the atoms to represent a chemical bond

Now in the above sketch of a CFCl3 molecule, put the two electrons (i.e electron pair) between each carbon-fluorine and carbon-chlorine atoms to represent a chemical bond between them.

step 2

These pairs of electrons present between the Carbon (C), Fluorine (F) and Chlorine (Cl) atoms form a chemical bond, which bonds these atoms in a CFCl3 molecule.

Step #4: Complete the octet (or duplet) on outside atoms. If the valence electrons are left, then put the valence electrons pair on the central atom

Don’t worry, I’ll explain!

In the Lewis structure of CFCl3, the outer atoms are fluorine and chlorine atoms.

So now, you have to complete the octet on these fluorine and chlorine atoms (because fluorine and chlorine requires 8 electrons to have a complete outer shell).

step 3

Now, you can see in the above image that all the fluorine and chlorine atoms form an octet.

Also, all the 32 valence electrons of CFCl3 molecule (as calculated in step #1) are used in the above structure. So there are no remaining electron pairs.

Hence there is no change in the above sketch of CFCl3.

Let’s move to the next step.

Step #5: Check whether the central atom has octet or not. If it does not have an octet, then move the electron pair from the outer atom to form a double bond or triple bond

In this step, we have to check whether the central atom (i.e carbon) has an octet or not. 

In simple words, we have to check whether the central Carbon (C) atom is having 8 electrons or not.

step 4

As you can see from the above image, the central atom (i.e carbon), has 8 electrons. So it fulfills the octet rule and the carbon atom is stable.

Step #6: Check the stability of lewis structure by calculating the formal charge on each atom

Now, you have come to the final step and here you have to check the formal charge on carbon atom (C), fluorine atom (F) as well as chlorine atoms (Cl).

For that, you need to remember the formula of formal charge;

Formal charge = Valence electrons – Nonbonding electrons – (Bonding electrons)/2

step 5
  • For Carbon:
    Valence electrons = 4 (as it is in group 14)
    Nonbonding electrons = 0
    Bonding electrons = 8
  • For Fluorine:
    Valence electron = 7 (as it is in group 17)
    Nonbonding electrons = 6
    Bonding electrons = 2
  • For Chlorine:
    Valence electron = 7 (as it is in group 17)
    Nonbonding electrons = 6
    Bonding electrons = 2
Formal charge=Valence electronsNonbonding electrons(Bonding electrons)/2

So you can see above that the formal charges on carbon, fluorine as well as chlorine are “zero”.

Hence, there will not be any change in the above structure and the above lewis structure of CFCl3 is the final stable structure only.

Each electron pair (:) in the lewis dot structure of CFCl3 represents the single bond ( | ). So the above lewis dot structure of CFCl3 can also be represented as shown below.

cfcl3 lewis structure

Related lewis structures for your practice:
Lewis Structure of NCl2-
Lewis Structure of AsCl5
Lewis Structure of COBr2
Lewis Structure of GeF4
Lewis Structure of Cl2O2 

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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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