Magnesium reacts with sulfur to produce magnesium sulfide. A. In this reaction, magnesium atoms become magnesium ions. State what happens when magnesium ions are formed, in terms of loss or gain of...

Magnesium reacts with sulfur to produce magnesium sulfide.

A. In this reaction, magnesium atoms become magnesium ions. State what happens when magnesium ions are formed, in terms of loss or gain of electrons. Give the name for this type of reaction. 

B. When they react with sodium, sulfur atoms each gain two electrons. when chlorine atoms react with sodium, they each gain only one electron. Explain this difference.

Expert Answers
megamind-616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A. When magnesium reacts with sulfur, an ionic bond is formed. An ionic bond is formed when a metal element gives an electron(s) to a receiving nonmetal element that gains its electrons. Thus, the metals within ionic bonds become positively charged ions (cations) and the complementary nonmetals become negatively charged ions (anions). In magnesium sulfide (MgS), magnesium loses two electrons. Therefore, magnesium becomes a cation with a positive-two charge. Likewise, sulfur obtains the two electrons lost from magnesium. Thus, sulfur becomes an anion with a negative-two charge. However, the overall charge of MgS is zero.

B. All main-group elements want to have eight valence electrons in order to feel stable. This is called the octet rule. Atoms will gain, lose, or share valence electrons in order to fulfill the octet rule. Atoms gain and lose valence electrons in ionic bonds. Covalent bonds involve the sharing of valence electrons.

 Sodium and sulfur react to form sodium sulfide (Na2S) via ionic bonding. The family/ group number on the periodic table indicates the number of valence electrons each main-group element has. Sodium is an element that is found in family 1 of the periodic table. Thus, each sodium atom has only one valence electron. Sulfur is found in family number 6. Thus, each sulfur atom has 6 valence electrons. In sodium sulfide, two sodium atoms each give one electron to one sulfur atom. When the sodium atoms give an electron, the atoms drop to their next lower electron orbital that is full. In this way, the sodium atoms fulfill the octet rule. Likewise, by obtaining two more electrons, the sulfur atom also fulfills the octet rule.

 When sodium and chlorine react, sodium chloride (NaCl) is formed via an ionic bond. As stated above, sodium is found in family 1 of the periodic table and has only one valence electron. However, chlorine is found in family 7 and has seven valence electrons. Thus, chlorine only needs one more electron to fulfill the octet rule. Chlorine obtains the additional electron from sodium. When the single sodium loses an electron to chlorine, it drops to its next lower electron orbital that is full. Thus, sodium also fulfills the octet rule.