What Is a Positive Ion Called, and What Is Its Significance?

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Atoms are the tiny building blocks of nature, and they consist of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Most atoms remain stable and perfectly balanced for a lifetime.

When they don’t, the atoms can actually become radioactive. In a balanced atom, protons and neutrons group together and form the central nucleus.

If atoms are left alone, they remain in balance forever, but sometimes outside sources cause them to become out of balance. If the net positive or negative electrical charge in an atom totals more than one, it is called an ion, and a positive ion is called a cation, while a negative ion is called an anion.

What Is a Positive Ion Called?

Positive and negative ions are called cations and anions, respectively. The way an ion is formed is really simple.

Ions are formed when electrons are either added to or removed from atoms or molecules that are neutral, or from other ions. They can also be formed when a covalent bond between two atoms ruptures and what is left is both electrons of the bond plus an atom that used to be bonded.

Looking at it another way, cations and anions are always formed if a nonmetal gains electrons from a metal that loses those electrons.

There is an electrostatic attraction between the negatives and positives, which then cause the particles to come together and form some type of ionic compound, one of which is sodium chloride.

Ionic Bonds and the Periodic Table

An ionic bond is always the result of a metal that reacts with a nonmetal. If you look at a particular element’s position on the periodic table, you can usually determine what charge an ion has naturally.

For instance, an alkali metal called an IA element is one that has lost one electron so that a cation is formed with a 1+ charge.

This means you can look at the names of the metals and determine which ones have lost electrons and which ones have gained electrons. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • IIA elements (alkaline earth metals) are those that lose two electrons to form a 2+ cation.
  • IIIA elements, which include aluminum, are those that lose three electrons and form a 3+ cation.
  • VIIA elements (the halogens) have a total of seven valence electrons and gain a single electron in order to fill their valence energy level; all of these will form an anion with one single negative charge.
  • VIA elements gain two electrons then form anions with a 2- charge.
  • VA elements gain three electrons then form anions with a 3- charge.

Some cations can have more than one name. At this time, most ions are named by using the metal name first (e.g., chromium), then followed by the ionic charge written as a Roman numeral and included in parentheses (e.g., II).

For this reason, it is easy to tell all about a positive or negative ion when looking at the table of elements as long as you’ve learned a few important tips.

The Practical Side of Ions

In the body, ions are called electrolytes and are responsible for numerous functions. While some of these ions help transmit electrical impulses along cell membranes in both the muscles and neurons, others are there to stabilize the protein structures in enzymes.

Others are also there to help release various hormones through the endocrine glands.

So yes, ions in the body are very active and very important for various functions. The ions located in plasma contribute to the osmotic balance, which means the movement of water between the cells and the environment they’re in is better controlled.

Some of the electrolytes found in living systems include potassium, calcium, sodium, chromium, chloride, phosphate, bicarbonate, zinc, copper, iron, molybdenum, magnesium, and manganese.

The electrolytes potassium, chloride, calcium, sodium, phosphate, and bicarbonate are considered the most important electrolytes simply because they are the ones that help the body function properly.

What Happens When You Lack Certain Electrolytes?

You can lack certain electrolytes at times, and when you do, it can throw your body out of whack. Some of the illnesses you can suffer with include:

  • Hypo/hypernatremia: too little or too much sodium
  • Hypo/hyperkalemia: too little or too much potassium
  • Hypo/hyperchloremia: lower or higher than average amounts of chloride in the blood
  • Hypo/hypercalcemia: lower or higher than average calcium blood levels
  • Hypo/hyperphosphatemia: lower or higher than average phosphate levels

In review, ions are important in the metabolism of all organisms and in fact, they have an important role to play in ion homeostasis. This process is necessary in any organism that is living.

When it comes to chemistry, ions can be used in various types of research for the chemist. Positive and negative ions even play a role in the utilization of many popular air cleaners of today.


There are positive and negative ions, which are formed when electrons are either added to or removed from atoms or molecules that are neutral.

Positive ions are called cations and negative ions are called anions. There are numerous functions of ions, one of which is that they are called electrolytes in the body and therefore are responsible for the production of hormones.

Ions are important for more reasons than these things. They can even stabilize the protein structures in enzymes and help transmit electrical impulses along the membranes of the cells in muscles and neurons, among other things.


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