Main Difference – Single vs Double vs Triple Bonds

Chemical bonds hold atoms in a molecule together by establishing forces between the electrons and nuclei of two atoms. Chemical reactions are governed by establishing or breaking the chemical bonds. There are various types of bonds such as covalent, ionic, van der Waal’s etc. The properties of the bonds vary depending on various aspects such as nature of molecule, solid type (crystalline or amorphous) etc. Covalent bonds are formed by sharing two or more electrons. The number of shared electron between atoms determines the number of bonds; whether it is single, double or triple. Therefore, single, double and triple bonds are covalent bonds. The main difference between single double and triple bond is the number of shared electrons. If the shared number is one pair of electrons, the bond will be a single bond, whereas if two atoms bonded by two pairs (four electrons), it will form a double bond. Triple bonds are formed by sharing three pairs (six atoms) of electrons.

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These sharing electrons are commonly known as valence electrons. This article will look at, 

1. What is a Single Bond?Definition, Properties, Examples

2. What is a Double Bond? – Definition, Properties, Examples

3. What is a Triple Bond? Definition, Properties, Examples

4. What is the difference between Single Double and Triple Bonds?


What is a Single Bond

A single bond is formed by sharing of one pair of valence electrons between two adjacent atoms. A single bond is the simplest form of a covalent bond, where each atom provides one valence electron. These valence electrons are located in the outermost shell of atoms. Here, the negatively charged shared electrons are being pulled on by the positively charged nuclei of atoms. These pulling forces hold the atoms together. This arrangement is known as a single bond. The molecules with single bonds are less reactive unlike the molecules with multiple bonds. Moreover, they are weaker than multiple bonds and have higher bond lengths due to the low pulling force between atoms when compared to multiple bonds. A single bond is denoted by just a single dash; ex: C ̶ C. Alkanes such as methane, ethane, propane are some examples for compounds with single bonds.



What is a Double Bond

A double bond is formed by sharing two pairs of valence electrons located in the outermost orbit of atoms. Compounds with double bonds are highly reactive than single bonded compounds but less reactive than compounds with triple bonds. Double bonds are denoted by two parallel dashes; ex: C=C. Some examples of compounds with double bonds include alkenes such as ethylene, propene, carbonyl compounds (C=O), azo compounds (N=N), imines (C=N), and sulfoxides (S=O).



What is a Triple Bond

When two atoms share three pairs of valence electrons (six valence electrons), the established bonds are called triple bonds. Triple bonds are the strongest and the most reactive covalent bonds. When compared with single and double bonds, triple bonds have the lowest bond length due to the higher pulling force between two atoms. A triple bond is denoted by three parallel dashes between two atoms; ex: C≡C. Some examples of compounds with triple bonds include nitrogen gas (N≡N), cyanide ion (C≡N), acetylene (CH≡CH) and carbon monoxide (C≡O).



Difference Between Single Double and Triple Bonds


Single Bond: A single bond is formed by sharing one pair of valence electrons.

Double Bond: A double bond is formed by sharing two pairs of valence electrons. 

Triple Bond: A triple bond is formed by sharing three pairs of valence electrons.


Single Bond: Single bonds are less reactive. 

Double Bond: Double bonds are moderately reactive. 

Triple Bond: Triple bonds are highly reactive. 

Bond length: 

Single Bond: Single bonds have a high bond length. 

Double Bond: Double bonds have a moderate bond length. 

Triple Bond: Triple bonds have a low bond strength. 

Denoted by:

Single Bond: Single bonds are denoted by a single dash (C-C).

Double Bond: Double bonds are denoted by two parallel dashes (C=C).

Triple Bond: Triple bonds are denoted by three parallel dashes (C≡C).


Single Bond: Examples include Alkanes such as methane, ethane, propane, butane etc.

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Double Bond: Examples include ethylene, propene, carbonyl compounds (C=O), azo compounds (N=N), imines (C=N), and sulfoxides (S=O). 

Triple Bond: Examples include Nitrogen gas (N≡N), cyanide ion (C≡N), acetylene (CH≡CH) and carbon monoxide (C≡O).