What Does a Charge in Chemistry Mean?

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A charge in chemistry means that protons and electrons are not equal. Find out what a charge in chemistry means with help from an experienced chemistry professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Chemistry & Biology Concepts
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Hi, I'm Robin Higgins and this is, What does a charge mean in chemistry?" OK, so a charge in chemistry means that the number of protons does not equal the number of electrons. Let's go over a couple of examples. OK so first let's say we have an oxygen atom. Now oxygen, it's atomic number eight means that no matter what it has to have eight protons. And for the most part, if it's going to be neutral, that means it's also going to have eight electrons. But let's say I don't have just an oxygen atom, let's say I have an oxygen atom that also says two minus on it. This means that it has an overall charge of negative two. So what that means is that it still has to have eight protons, there's no getting around that. If it has eight protons it's oxygen, if it doesn't it's not oxygen. So how do I combine eight with another number to get negative two. Well if I think about it the only number that fits in here is going to have to be negative ten because this will overcome the eight and then it has an extra two to become negative two. So a charge in chemistry means that the number of protons don't equal the number of electrons. So in this case the number of protons eight does not equal the number of electrons, ten, and we have a leftover charge of negative two. Let's just do one more example. If I said I had a positively charged lithium, what does that mean? Well lithium is atomic number three. We can find this out by looking up on the periodic table. And if it has a positive charge it means that it's going to have an overall charge of positive one. Because if you just show a positive it's an implied one. So what number fits here? Well it's negative two which means that a positively charged lithium has two electrons. And you can solve any problem you need to by just using the periodic table and adding up how many electrons and protons there are. I'm Robin Higgins and this is, What does a charge mean in chemistry?"

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