Water is the driving force of all life on planet Earth. It covers about 70% of the earth’s surface, and makes up about 60 to 75% of our own bodies! It plays a vital role in almost everything we do. We use it to hydrate everything from our pets and lawn to our own chemical processes. Our bodies have utilized water for almost every important activity we do such as digestion (saliva) to temperature control (sweating) to even waste management (urination). But what makes it so precious? What makes water such an amazing force in everyday life? It is its chemical anatomy, its make-up that gives it its special properties.
Hydrogen Monoxide,more commonly known as water, is written as H2O. This stands for two hydrogen and one oxygen. This unique molecule has some special properties. Oxygen has extremely high electronegativity (χ), meaning it attracts electrons better than most other elements (all except for flourine). Because of this, the hydrogen atoms spend less time with their electrons and the oxygen atom spends more time with them. This results in water being polar. The oxygen atoms have an overall negative charge, and the hydrogen atoms have a positive charge overall, though in a chemical equation they actually have an equal charge. This is from the stronger electronegativity of oxygen.
These charges are responsible for the actual shape of the water molecule. The polarity fixes the atoms into a triangle “V” shape. The oxygen sits at the top of the triangle, always represented by an O. The oxygen is covalently bonded to both hydrogens, represented by the letter H, through a single bond. The single electron each hydrogen has bonds to the oxygen. Because there are two hydrogen atoms bonding, the oxygen has a perfect outter shell of eight electrons, its six and the two donated by the hydrogen. The hydrogen molecules are spaced apart 104.45 degrees, because their similar charges repel one another. The anatomy of each water molecule has to do with water’s unique ability to have partial charges on each atom in its make up.
The anatomy of water is what is responsible for its cool properties. Because it has a partial charge, our bodies can use it for almost any chemical reaction. Plants too utilize the molecule’s unique nature to cheaply fuel growth. Because of the partial charge, it is possible for a natural phenomenon to occur known as capillary action. Because each water molecule can bond to the opposite pole of another water molecule, as one molecule is pulled to the top of a tree, another is pulled to replace the first molecule, and then another, and another.
This is easily imagined by replaced each water molecule with a magnet. As one magnet is pulled up, the north end of one pulls the south end of another, which pulls a north end and so forth and so forth. This process is repeated until the water supply is exhausted. This is one of many interesting characteristics of water and what it can do for everything that uses it, just because of its anatomical structure!