It can get rid of the electron by donating it to another atom that would be happier with an extra eletron. A magnesium (Mg) atom, which has two electrons in its outer shell that it would like to, if possible, get rid of by bonding. A single chlorine atom can’t take both, since chlorine only needs one electron to fill its outer electron shell. Notice that each magnesium atom reacts with two chlorine atoms (Mg + 2 Cl) to produce a compound with one magnesium and two chlorines bonded together (chemical formula: MgCl2).
When we looked at the patterns in the periodic table, one of the things I had my student graph was the electronegativity.


When atoms with a large difference in electronegative bond together, the bonds tend to be ionic.
Montessori Muddle by Montessori Muddle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Something like chlorine (symbol: Cl) that only has 7 electrons in its outer shell, but wants to have 8. However, magnesium can give one electron to two different chlorine atoms to create a molecule with three atoms total.
The subscripted 2 indicates that there are two chlorine atoms in each magnesium chloride molecule.


This is why (more or less) sodium will end up donating its electron and why chlorine is happy to accept it. In this case, sodium and chloride react to produce sodium chloride (chemical formula: NaCl).



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