Lewis Structure of CH4 (With 6 Simple Steps to Draw!)

Lewis structure of CH4

I’m super excited to teach you the lewis structure of CH4 in just 6 simple steps.

Infact, I’ve also given the step-by-step images for drawing the lewis dot structure of CH4 molecule.

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

Lewis structure of CH4 (or Methane) contains four single bonds between each Carbon (C) and Hydrogen (H) atoms. The Carbon atom (C) is at the center and it is surrounded by 4 Hydrogen atoms (H).

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 CH4).

6 Steps to Draw the Lewis Structure of CH4

Step #1: Calculate the total number of valence electrons

Here, the given molecule is CH4 (methane). In order to draw the lewis structure of CH4, first of all you have to find the total number of valence electrons present in the CH4 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 CH4

  • For Carbon:

Carbon is a group 14 element on the periodic table.

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

  • For Hydrogen: 

Hydrogen is a group 1 element on the periodic table.

Hence, the valence electron present in hydrogen is 1 (see below image).

Hence in a CH4 molecule, 

Valence electrons given by Carbon (C) atom = 4
Valence electron given by each Hydrogen (H) atom = 1
So, total number of Valence electrons in CH4 molecule = 4 + 1(4) = 8

Step #2: Select the center atom (H is always outside)

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).

Here in the CH4 molecule, if we compare the carbon atom (C) and hydrogen atom (H), then hydrogen is less electronegative than carbon. But as per the rule, we have to keep hydrogen outside.

So, carbon should be placed in the center and the remaining 4 hydrogen 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 CH4 molecule, put the two electrons (i.e electron pair) between each carbon atom and hydrogen atom to represent a chemical bond between them.

step 2

These pairs of electrons present between the Carbon (C) and Hydrogen (H) atoms form a chemical bond, which bonds the carbon and hydrogen atoms with each other in a CH4 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 CH4, the outer atoms are hydrogen atoms.

So now, you have to check whether these hydrogen atoms are forming a duplet or not! (because hydrogen requires only 2 electrons to have a complete outer shell).

step 3

You can see in the above image that all the hydrogen atoms form a duplet.

Also, all the 8 valence electrons of CH4 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 CH4.

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), is having 8 electrons. So it fulfills the octet rule and the carbon atom is stable.

Step #6: Final step – 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) as well as each hydrogen atom (H).

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 Hydrogen:
    Valence electron = 1 (as it is in group 1)
    Nonbonding electrons = 0
    Bonding electrons = 2
Formal charge=Valence electronsNonbonding electrons(Bonding electrons)/2
C=408/2=0
H=102/2=0

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

Hence, there will not be any change in the above structure and the above lewis structure of CH4 is the final stable structure only.

Each electron pair (:) in the lewis dot structure of CH4 represents the single bond ( | ). So the above lewis dot structure of CH4 can also be represented as shown below.

CH4 lewis structure

Related lewis structures for your practice:
Lewis structure of BF3
Lewis structure of NO3 –
Lewis structure of O3
Lewis structure of C2H2
Lewis structure of CH2O

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