Cations and anions are two types of ions, distinguished by their electrical charges. An ion is an atom or molecule that has an electrical charge, either positive or negative. If the charge is positive, the ion is a cation.
A substance containing cations is called cationic. If the charge is negative, the ion is an anion, and a substance containing these ions is called anionic. An example of a cation is calcium (Ca2+), and an example of an anion is chloride (Cl–).
Cationic and anionic ions are formed when atoms or molecules gain or lose electrons. Protons have a positive charge, electrons have a negative charge, and neutrons have no charge. When the number of protons equals the number of electrons in an atom, the atom is neutral, with no electrical charge.
If an atom loses one or more electrons, it will have more protons than electrons and will be positively charged. If an atom gains one or more electrons, it will be negatively charged.
What is Cationic?
Cationic substances are positively charged. They contain cations and are attracted to anionic substances.
What is Anionic?
Anionic substances are negatively charged. They contain anions and are attracted to cationic substances.
What is the Difference Between Anionic and Cationic?
Cationic material has a positive charge and is attracted to substances with a negative charge. Anionic material is the opposite — it has a negative charge and is attracted to substances that are positively charged.
These properties have many practical applications. For example:
Hair conditioners can contain cationic surfactants. Wet hair has a negative charge, and the positively charged cationic conditioner is attracted to the hair and coats it, protecting the hair, making it smoother, and reducing friction.
Fabric softener rinse products use cationic compounds. Anionic detergents may leave residual negative charges in clothes, creating static electricity as the negative ions repel each other. A cationic fabric softener neutralizes the negative charge to eliminate the static.
Disinfectants may contain cationic compounds. These compounds may have antiviral effects. They work by destroying the virus’s membrane.
Cationic compounds may be used in deodorants for their antibacterial properties.
Things to Consider When Choosing Cationic and Anionic Substances or Products:
- Anionic compounds have a negative charge.
- Cationic compounds have a positive charge.
- Cationic and anionic substances are attracted to each other.
- Anionic compounds may be used in detergents and other cleaning products.
- Cationic compounds may be used in disinfectants, hair conditioners, and fabric softeners.
- Both cationic and anionic compounds may have effects on the environment.
- When cationic and anionic compounds are both used in products, the effects of combining them need to be taken into account.
How 3V Sigma USA Can Help
3V Sigma USA supplies industry with high-quality specialty chemicals, including cationic compounds for conditioners and hair dyes, antistatic agents for hard-surface cleaners and detergents, and cationic polygel for toilet bowl cleaners and acid-based cleaning systems.
We take pride in the quality and consistency of our products. We strive to give our customers the best experience possible, with our dedicated technical, sales, logistics and quality teams.
To receive a quote or to ask any questions you may have, email us at questions@3VSigmaUSA.com, call us at (866) 599-7896, or fill in the contact form on our site. We would be glad to discuss your needs and let you know more about how we can help.