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Molecules or Ions Lab

Background: The forces of attraction between the particles in a compound affect the physical
properties of the compound. Weak forces of attraction hold together molecules in
a molecular compound. Strong forces of attraction hold together the oppositely
charged ions in an ionic compound. Thus molecular compounds and ionic
compounds have different physical properties.

Purpose: To determine whether selected compounds are composed of molecules or ions.

Materials: magnifying lens Hot plate

Distilled water Epsom salts
5 small beakers baking soda
Stirring rod honey
Conductivity tester lard

Procedure: 1. Obtain a peanut-sized samples of each compound. Each sample must be placed
in its own beaker.
2. Examine a small sample of each substance using a magnifying lens. Records
its appearance. Note, in particular, if the edges of the sample have a characteristic
3. Use proper wafting technique to carefully smell each compound. If you detect
an odour, try to describe it in your data table.
4. You must wear protective gloves for this step. Test the hardness of each
substance by rubbing a small sample between your thumb and forefingers. Use
words such as “soft”, “waxy”, and “brittle” to record your observations. Wash
your hands thoroughly when you have completed this step.
5. Fill each beaker half way with distilled water. This will be mixed with each
sample. Use one beaker as the “control”.
6. Predict whether the control will conduct electricity or not. Then test your
prediction and record your results.
7. Stir the substances in each beaker with a stirring rod, and note whether each
compound dissolves completely.
8. Test each of these 4 solutions for conductivity, and record your results.
9. Place each of the beakers on a preheated hot plate. Observe for several
minutes. Based on how long it takes for the substance to melt, determine if its
relative melting point is “low” (takes a short time) or “high” (does not melt or
takes a long time).
10. Clean all materials and return them. Be sure to let the beakers cool before
handling them. Wash your hands.
Data & Observations:

Substance Appearance Odour Hardness Solubility in Conductivity Relative Ionic or

Water in aqueous Melting Point covalent?





Analysis & Conclusion:

1. Which substances have edges with a characteristic shape? What does this suggest about the
arrangement of their particles?

2. Which substances have no odour, or are hard and brittle? What do these properties suggest
about the strength of the forces of attraction?

3. Classify each test substance as electrolytes and non-electrolytes.

4. Which of the compounds in this investigation are made of ions, and which are made of