Lewis Structure of ClF3 (With 5 Simple Steps to Draw!)

Lewis Structure of ClF3

I’m super excited to teach you the lewis structure of ClF3 in just 5 simple steps.

Infact, I’ve also given the step-by-step images for drawing the lewis dot structure of ClF3 molecule.

So, if you are ready to go with these 5 simple steps, then let’s dive right into it!

Lewis structure of ClF3 contains three single bonds between the Chlorine (Cl) atom and each Fluorine (F) atom. The Chlorine atom (Cl) is at the center and it is surrounded by 3 Fluorine atoms (F). The Chlorine atom has 2 lone pairs and all the three Fluorine atoms have 3 lone pairs.

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 ClF3).

5 Steps to Draw the Lewis Structure of ClF3

Step #1: Calculate the total number of valence electrons

Here, the given molecule is ClF3 (chlorine trifluoride). In order to draw the lewis structure of ClF3, first of all you have to find the total number of valence electrons present in the ClF3 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 ClF3

  • For Chlorine:

Chlorine is a group 17 element on the periodic table.

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

  • For Fluorine: 

Fluorine is a group 17 element on the periodic table.

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

Hence in a ClF3 molecule, 

Valence electrons given by Chlorine (Cl) atom = 7
Valence electrons given by each Fluorine (F) atom = 7
So, total number of Valence electrons in ClF3 molecule = 7 + 7(3) = 28

Step #2: Select the center atom

While selecting the 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 ClF3 molecule, if we compare the chlorine atom (Cl) and fluorine atom (F), then the chlorine is less electronegative than fluorine.

So, chlorine should be placed in the center and the remaining 3 fluorine 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 ClF3 molecule, put the two electrons (i.e electron pair) between each chlorine atom and fluorine atom to represent a chemical bond between them.

step 2

These pairs of electrons present between the Chlorine (Cl) and Fluorine (F) atoms form a chemical bond, which bonds the chlorine and fluorine atoms with each other in a ClF3 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 ClF3, the outer atoms are fluorine atoms.

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

step 3

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

Also, only 24 valence electrons of ClF3 molecule are used in the above structure.

But there are total 28 valence electrons in ClF3 molecule (as calculated in step #1).

So the number of electrons left to be kept on the central atom = 28 – 24 = 4.

So let’s keep these four electrons (i.e 2 electron pairs) on the central atom.

step 4

Now, let’s move to the next step.

Step #5: 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 chlorine atom (Cl) as well as each fluorine atom (F).

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

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

step 5
  • For Chlorine:
    Valence electron = 7 (as it is in group 17)
    Nonbonding electrons = 4
    Bonding electrons = 6
  • For Fluorine:
    Valence electron = 7 (as it is in group 17)
    Nonbonding electrons = 6
    Bonding electrons = 2
Formal charge=Valence electronsNonbonding electrons(Bonding electrons)/2
Cl=746/2=0
F=762/2=0

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

Hence, there will not be any change in the above structure and the above lewis structure of ClF3 is the final stable structure only.

Each electron pair (:) in the lewis dot structure of ClF3 represents the single bond ( | ). So the above lewis dot structure of ClF3 can also be represented as shown below.

ClF3 Lewis Structure

Related lewis structures for your practice:
Lewis structure of Cl2
Lewis structure of HF
Lewis structure of SCl2
Lewis structure of PF5
Lewis structure of H2SO4

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