Swati Talwar


Carbon Monoxide Bonds Study Guide

One of the most basic carbon oxides is carbon monoxide, which is one carbon atom coupled to one oxygen atom.


Smoke inhalation is among the most common and serious problems faced by firefighters. If left untreated, it could be fatal and life-threatening. But why is it so bad? It's due to gases like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the smoke. These gases enter the bloodstream through inhalation and could cause catastrophic damage to the brain and other organs. Carbon monoxide is the most lethal among all gases due to its high affinity for combining with hemoglobin.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Source


Carbon monoxide is the most basic oxocarbon or oxide of carbon. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, slightly lighter-than-air gas. Even though it is created in the metabolism and has certain biological activities, it is poisonous to humans and animals at greater doses.

Carbon monoxide Source


One carbon and one oxygen atom are joined by a triple bond in carbon monoxide. The carbon and oxygen atoms are separated by 112.8 pm, indicating the presence of a triple bond.

CO has the strongest chemical bond observed, with a bond dissociation energy of 1072 kJ/mol. CO has three resonance configurations. However, the triple bond structure is the closest to the true electron density distribution in the compound.


Three distinct resonance structures stabilize carbon monoxide. The essential resonance arrangement is the first one.

Carbon Monoxide esonance structures Source


CO is a signaling molecule that is naturally generated by the human body. A range of illnesses, particularly hypertension and heart failure, have been related to anomalies in its metabolism. CO is prevalent in minor concentrations in the atmosphere, primarily due to fossil fuel combustion and fires. It is eventually converted to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by natural mechanisms.


  • One carbon atom and one oxygen atom make up a carbon monoxide molecule.
  • CO has three resonance configurations; however, the triple bond structure is the closest to the true electron density distribution in the compound.
  • CO is prevalent in minor concentrations in the atmosphere, primarily as a consequence of fossil fuel combustion and fires.


1. What kind of bond is CO?

In carbon monoxide, carbon and oxygen first form a double covalent bond. At first, oxygen and carbon share their two valence electrons each. This makes a double covalent bond. By doing so, oxygen becomes stable. But carbon is still not stabilized. Hence, oxygen now shares one of its lone pairs with carbon, leading to a coordinate covalent or dative bond. Once formed, a dative bond acts just like a normal covalent bond. Hence, carbon monoxide has a triple covalent bond.

2. What is the meaning of CO bond?

Carbon monoxide has a triple covalent bond, in which two are normal covalent bonds and one is a dative bond. A dative bond itself is a coordinate covalent bond. Here oxygen shares its lone pair of electrons with carbon, making a coordinate covalent bond. Once formed, this bond acts like a normal covalent bond.

3. How many bonds are there in CO?

Carbon Monoxide has a triple covalent bond. Two are normal covalent bonds, and one is a coordinate bond.

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  1. Coordinate Covalent bond. https://www.ck12.org/c/chemistry/coordinate-covalent-bond/lesson/Coordinate-Covalent-Bonds-CHEM/?referrer=concept_details. Accessed on 23rd Jan 2022.
  2. Properties Of Carbon Monoxide. https://www.vedantu.com/question-answer/carbon-monoxide-has-a-bond-between-c-and-o-a-class-12-chemistry-cbse-5f625c5d01faef2daa4dfc56. Accessed on 23rd Jan 2022