Sulfur Charge In H2S, SO2, SO4, Na2SO3, And SO3

Sulfur is a naturally neutral atom. But, in some instances, such as when it becomes an ion, it gets a charge. What is this charge of sulfur?

For some elements, the charge is the same as the valency and oxidation states. That is not the case for sulfur. Moreover, charge, valency, and oxidation states are three different intrinsic properties of elements.

Some elements exhibit variable oxidation states. Is sulfur one of these elements? Find out in this article.

Properties of sulfur

  • Sulfur is a nonmetal with atomic number 16 and mass number 32
  • It is located in group 16 (VIA) and period 3 on the periodic table
  • Sulfur in its purest form is pale yellow, tasteless, odorless, and brittle
  • Furthermore, it is insoluble in water and a poor conductor of electricity
  • However, sulfur is very reactive. It forms sulfides with metals except platinum and gold. It also forms sulfides with other nonmetals
  • Sulfur has an electronic configuration of [Ne] 3S23P4 with 2, 8, and 6 electrons in its shells
  • In addition, sulfur has a melting point of 239.38°F (115.21°C) and a boiling point 832.3°F (444.6°C)

What is the charge of sulfur?

Sulfur is a neutral atom. However, when it gains two electrons in its outermost shell to complete its octet structure, it forms a sulfide ion with a -2 charge.

When sulfur is in its charged state, it readily tracts with other elements. Generally, sulfur is a very reactive element and this is owing to its ability to exhibit various oxidation states.

What is the charge of sulfur in sulfur dioxide?

The charge of sulfur in sulfur dioxide, SO2, is +4. The charge of oxygen is -2, and the overall charge of sulfur dioxide is 0.


S + 2(-2) = 0

S – 4 = 0

+4 = S

What is the charge of sulfur in hydrogen sulfide?

The charge of sulfur in hydrogen sulfide is -2. Hydrogen has a charge of +1 and the overall charge of the compound is 0.


2(1) + S = 0

2 + S = 0

S = 0

What is the charge of sulfur in sulfate ions?

The overall charge of the sulfate ion, SO42- is -2 and the charge of oxygen is -2. In a mathematical expression,

S + 4(-2) = -2

S – 8 = -2

-8 + 2 = S

S = +6

What is the charge of S in SO32-?

The charge of S in SO32- is +4.

Substitute the oxidation states of O (-2) and the overall charge of the anion, -2, in a mathematical expression,

S + 3(-2) = -2

S – 6 = -2

-6 +2 = S

S = +4

What is the charge of sulfur in Na2SO3?

The charge of S in Na2SO3 is +4. The oxidation states of Na and O are +1 and -2, respectively.


2(1) + S + 3(-2) = 0

2 + S – 6 = 0

S – 4 = 0

S = +4

What is the nuclear charge of sulfur?

The nuclear charge of an atom is the value of the total charge on the number of protons in the nucleus. It is also the same as the atomic number of an atom when it has not lost or gained electron(s).

Therefore, the nuclear charge of sulfur is 16.


What is the formal charge of sulfur in sulfur trioxide?

The formal charge of an atom is defined by,

F = V – N – B/2

F is the formal charge, V is the number of valence electrons, N is the number of lone electrons, and B is the number of bonding electrons.

V = 6, B = 12

F = 6 – 0 – 12/2

F = 6 – 6 = 0

How many oxidation states does sulfur have?

Sulfur has three oxidation states, -2, +4, and +6. These varying oxidation states and values are a result of the 3S23P4 electron configuration in the outermost shell.

What is the charge of sulfuric acid?

Sulfuric acid is neutral by itself and with an overall charge of 0. However, in an aqueous solution, the acid ionizes into hydronium ions, H3O+, and hydrogen sulfate ions, HSO4-.


Sulfur is a neutral atom, but when it gets a -2 charge when it forms the sulfide ion. Sulfur has six electrons in its outermost shell. To attain its octet structure, it gains two more electrons.

Unlike some other elements, sulfur has only one charge. But, it exhibits different oxidation states in different sulfate ions.

Thanks for reading.

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