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Particle State - SolidIntroduction: Why is sodium explosive and chlorine gas deadly when inhaled, while sodium chloride (NaCl) is used in the kitchen and put on food? The answer lies in the fact that chemical bonds form between atoms of elements to form a stable compound. A chemical bond is a strong force of attraction that hold atoms together in a molecule or crystal, resulting from the sharing or transfer of electrons. A chemical bond consists of a form of stored energy, known as potential energy.

Chemical bonds, which contain potential energy, are generally more stable when they are formed, compared to the individual atoms themselves, as a result of each of the atoms in the bond having a full octet, or outermost electron shell of eight electrons each. As a result of these full octets, the energy of the system overall decreases to lead to more stability. On the other hand, when chemical bonds are broken, the atoms of the individual elements no longer have octets, so they are considered unstable and the energy of the system increases overall.

Without chemical bonds, free elements would be floating around, and we would not have some of the most important compounds and mixtures that we know of today. For example, water consists of bonds between hydrogen and oxygen molecules, enabling the water molecule overall to be more stable. Yet another example of a compound formed by bonding is propane, a gas used in many fuels that consists of three carbon atoms and eight hydrogen atoms bonded to one another.

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