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What is Water?

Water is an amazing molecule; made up of one oxygen atom (O) and two hydrogen atoms (H). 

Water Molecule

This Mickey-Mouse-looking molecule is more than meets the eye, though.  Notice the position of the two hydrogen atoms.  They are angled at 104.5°.  This is very important!  If they had been straight across from each other at 180° (like Princess Leia's famous hairsyle), water would be VERY different than how we know it.  Life also would not exist!  Serious stuff.

Leia Not Water

Instead, because of this interesting 104.5° kink in the ever-loved water molecule, it has super powers!

Super Water Molecule

Oxygen is a big, electron-hungry atom.  Hydrogen is a small, weak atom.  When they meet, oxygen basically steals hydrogen's one little electron away from it.  Sad, but true.  This means the oxygen side of the water molecule will have a slightly negative charge and the hydrogen side will have a slightly positive charge.  Now pay attention, because this is really important.

Water Molecule Charge

You may have heard the old saying that "opposites attract."   That is very true of water molecules.  The negative side of one water molecule is attracted to the positive end of another molecule!  Water molecules are attracted to each other!  They are sticky!  That Princess-Leia-looking water molecule above NEVER would have done this!  The Mickey-Mouse water molecule does!  Mind blown, I know.

Sticky Water Molecules

This stickiness is called Hydrogen Bonding.  This leads to all kinds of unique properties for water.  Life-giving properties that are important for industrial water applications too. 

These unique properties include: 
  • Liquid at room temperature
  • High heat capacity
  • Surface tension
  • Less dense before it freezes
  • Ionizes to give pH
Water is quite the wily molecule.  Now you know.  Impress your friends with your water cred.

Water Molecule Cred