Is CH4 Polar or Nonpolar?

Answer: CH4 is nonpolar because all of the nonpolar covalent bonds are spaced within a tetrahedral structure around the molecule. This distributes electron charge equally around the central carbon atom.

CH4 contains nonpolar covalent bonds because the electronegativity difference between hydrogen (2.20) and carbon (2.55) is lower than .5. Regardless of these nonpolar covalent bonds, CH4 is nonpolar because charge is equally distributed (the same reason that CCl4 is nonpolar). Due to the relatively small size of the molecule, CH4 does not have enough electrons to create strong charges due to temporary random displacement (i.e. London Dispersion Forces). This is why methane is a gas at standard temperature and pressure.

If you are interested in learning more, feel free to check out this article on CH4's Lewis Dot Structure.

CH4 Ball and Stick Model
CH4 Ball and Stick Structure. Created with MolView.
When was methane first discovered?

Methane was first discovered in 1776 by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta [1]. However, the utilization of the term methane to describe CH4 only appears to have begun ninety years later. Early scientists examining the compound were attempting to understand its flammable properties. As a result, methane has many prominent uses in modern technologies as a fuel source.


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