Nonelectrolyte Definition in Chemistry

What Is a Nonelectrolyte?

Sugar is an example of a nonelectrolyte, while salt is an example of an electrolyte.
Sugar is an example of a nonelectrolyte, while salt is an example of an electrolyte. Howard Pugh (Marais) / Getty Images

Nonelectrolyte Definition

A nonelectrolyte is a substance that does not exist in an ionic form in aqueous solution. Nonelectrolytes tend to be poor electrical conductors and don't readily dissociate into ions when melted or dissolved. Solutions of nonelectrolytes do not conduct electricity.

Examples of Nonelectrolytes

Ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is a nonelectrolyte because it does not ionize when dissolved in water.

Sugar is another example of a nonelectrolyte. Sugar dissolves in water, yet retains its chemical identity.

Telling Electrolytes and Nonelectrolytes Apart

  • Electrolytes tend to contain ionic bonds that break when the chemical interacts with water and other polar solvents. Electrolytes include salts and other polar molecules.
  • Nonelectrolytes, in contrast, tend to contain covalent bonds and are typically nonpolar molecules.