Sodium Oxide – Chemical Formula and Structure

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Sodium oxide is an important compound used in the glass and ceramic industries on a large scale. It stays insoluble in water, making it useful for high-temperature applications such as glass forming. It is also used in making fuel cells because of its ionic conductivity.

Chemical formula and structure of sodium oxide

Basically, there are molecules of sodium, oxygen and carbon in this substance. These molecules are all held together by intermolecular forces such as van der Waals dispersion and dipole-dipole interactions. The atoms of these elements are bonded in very strong bonds, and the melting points of the oxides (or boiling points) are very high because it takes a lot of heat energy to break them up.

Metal oxides boil at very high temperatures because the ions of each element are bonded in very complex bonds to their neighbours. These are much stronger than the simple silicon dioxide molecule, so their melting and boiling points are higher.

The difference in electronegativity between the Period 3 elements means that their ionic bonding is much weaker than the oxides of other Period 2 elements. This is why the metal oxides and silicon dioxide have higher melting points than the oxides of phosphorus, sulfur or chlorine.


None of these oxides conduct electricity in the solid state, but they do when molten because of the movement and discharge of the ions present. This is one of the main industrial uses for these compounds, but whether a molten sodium oxide can be electrolysed depends on whether it actually melts (rather than subliming or decomposing under ordinary conditions).