CH3COOH Lewis Structure

CH3COOH Lewis Structure

CH3COOH (acetic acid) has two carbon atoms, four hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. In the lewis structure of CH3COOH, there is a single bond between the two carbon atoms. The left carbon is attached with three hydrogen atoms, and the right carbon is attached with two oxygen atoms. One oxygen atom makes a double bond with the carbon atom, and the other oxygen atom (with which the hydrogen atom is attached) makes a single bond with the carbon atom. And on each oxygen atom, there are two lone pairs.


Here’s how you can draw the CH3COOH lewis structure step by step.

Step #1: draw sketch
Step #2: mark lone pairs
Step #3: mark charges
Step #4: minimize charges
Step #5: minimize charges again (if there are)

Let’s break down each step in detail.

#1 Draw Sketch

  • First, determine the total number of valence electrons

In the periodic table, carbon lies in group 14, hydrogen lies in group 1, and oxygen lies in group 16.

Hence, carbon has four valence electrons, hydrogen has one valence electron, and oxygen has six valence electrons.

Since CH3COOH has two carbon atoms, four hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms, so…

Valence electrons of two carbon atoms = 4 × 2 = 8
Valence electrons of four hydrogen atoms = 1 × 4 = 4
Valence electrons of two oxygen atoms = 6 × 2 = 12

And the total valence electrons = 8 + 4 + 12 = 24

  • Second, find the total electron pairs

We have a total of 24 valence electrons. And when we divide this value by two, we get the value of total electron pairs.

Total electron pairs = total valence electrons ÷ 2

So the total electron pairs = 24 ÷ 2 = 12

  • Third, determine the central atom

Here hydrogen can not be the central atom. Because the central atom is bonded with at least two other atoms, and hydrogen has only one electron in its last shell, so it can not make more than one bond.

Now we have to choose the central atom from carbon and oxygen. Place the least electronegative atom at the center.

Since carbon is less electronegative than oxygen, assume that the central atom is carbon.

Here, there are two carbon atoms, so we can assume any one as the central atom.

Let’s assume that the central atom is right carbon.

Therefore, place carbons in the center and hydrogen and oxygen on either side.

  • And finally, draw the rough sketch
CH3COOH Lewis Structure (Step 1)

#2 Mark Lone Pairs

Here, we have a total of 12 electron pairs. And seven bonds are already marked. So we have to only mark the remaining five electron pairs as lone pairs on the sketch.

Also remember that both (carbon and oxygen) are the period 2 elements, so they can not keep more than 8 electrons in their last shell. And hydrogen is a period 1 element, so it can not keep more than 2 electrons in its last shell.

Always start to mark the lone pairs from outside atoms. Here, the outside atoms are hydrogens and oxygens. But no need to mark on hydrogen, because each hydrogen has already two electrons.

So for top oxygen, there are three lone pairs, for bottom oxygen, there are two lone pairs, and for carbon, there is zero lone pair because all five electron pairs are over.

Mark the lone pairs on the sketch as follows:

CH3COOH Lewis Structure (Step 2)

#3 Mark Charges

Use the following formula to calculate the formal charges on atoms:

Formal charge = valence electrons – nonbonding electrons – ½ bonding electrons

For left carbon atom, formal charge = 4 – 0 – ½ (8) = 0

For right carbon atom, formal charge = 4 – 0 – ½ (6) = +1

For each hydrogen atom, formal charge = 1 – 0 – ½ (2) = 0

For top oxygen atom, formal charge = 6 – 6 – ½ (2) = -1

For bottom oxygen atom, formal charge = 6 – 4 – ½ (4) = 0

Here, both carbon and oxygen atoms have charges, so mark them on the sketch as follows:

CH3COOH Lewis Structure (Step 3)

The above structure is not a stable lewis structure because both carbon and oxygen atoms have charges. Therefore, reduce the charges (as below) by converting lone pairs to bonds.

#4 Minimize Charges

Convert a lone pair of the top oxygen atom to make a new C — O bond with the carbon atom as follows:

CH3COOH Lewis Structure (Step 4)

In the above structure, you can see that the central atom (right carbon) forms an octet. Hence, the octet rule is satisfied.

Also, the above structure is more stable than the previous structures. Therefore, this structure is the stable lewis structure of CH3COOH.

Next: SiCl4 Lewis Structure

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