ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Water and Hydrogen Bonds Make Life Possible

Updated on June 29, 2012

The Importance of Hydrogen Bonding in Water Molecules:

Much of water's exceptional characteristics that create an amiable environment for the evolution and continuity of species are directly related to water's ability to form hydrogen bonds with itself. Because the oxygen atom in water is more electronegative than the two hydrogen atoms (this is related to the number of valence electrons in each respective valence shell), when the two elements combine they create a polar molecule. This polar molecule consists of a negatively charged oxygen atom and two positively charged hydrogen atoms; again, this phenomenon is related to the fact that oxygen has more valence electrons than hydrogen. When water molecules come in close proximity to each other they form hydrogen bonds--bonds between the negatively charged oxygen and positively charged hydrogen. This fundamental property of water accounts for its cohesive properties, ability to moderate temperature, and ability to act as a solvent.

Water's Cohesive Properties:

The hydrogen bonding of water, as one would expect, creates an attraction between individual molecules. Thus, water molecules stay relatively close together--this phenomenon is known as cohesion. Cohesion is essential to life processes on earth. Without cohesion, plants would be doomed by gravity as water has to move up against the force of gravity through the stem to the chloroplasts. If water did not form bonds with itself, their would be no force to counteract the effect of gravity to pull the molecules apart. More directly, cohesion (and surface tension) relate the ability of water striders movement across bodies of water. Cohesion, made possible by hydrogen bonding, plays an extremely important role in the processes of life.

How Does Water Moderate Temperatures?

Perhaps more important, however, is water's ability to moderate temperatures. Because water can form hydrogen bonds, it has a high specific heat and heat of vaporization. The former relates a substance's ability to resist changes in temperature; more specifically, the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius (or the amount of energy to reduce the temperature by the same amount). The latter relates a substance's ability to resist vaporization, and is specifically defined as the amount of heat a substance has to absorb in order for one gram to change from a liquid to a gas. Because water has such a high specific heat, it moderates coastal temperatures by absorbing heat during the day and releasing it during the night--creating a more suitable environment for life. Moreover, the oceans, consisting of water, are moderated by the properties of water and its high specific heat. The heat of vaporization of water, which is likewise high, is related to water's ability to form hydrogen bonds and enables certain moderation processes in biology. In humans, for example,sweat glands capitalize on the high heat of vaporization of water by secreting water onto the surface of the skin in order to lower body temperatures.

Water as a Universal Solvent:

Finally, water, sometimes called the worlds universal solvent, can dissolve solutes of numerous forms. Once again, tied to water's ability to form hydrogen bonds, water reacts with particles (forming hydrogen bonds). Even non-polar molecules such as sugar will dissolve in water, as water surrounds each individual molecule forming a hydration shell. Water's versatility when it comes to dissolving molecules has enormous implications for life and life processes. The fluids and nutrients in our blood, the sap in plants and trees, and many other important biological solutions are made possible by water and its unique properties as a solvent.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • gclitty profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Ya, this hub isn't really about water conservation directly, but there is no doubt water is becoming more and more scarce, especially with the demographic changes we are facing right now. Thanks for reading!

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      6 years ago from New Jersey


      My husband & I have been fighting about environmental issues in our small town for several years. Once I was writing a letter to the Editor of the local newspaper, to try to explain why it was bad to build a 1200 unit townhome complex across the street from a reservior! After struggling with how to frame the issue, it came down to your title, Why Is Water Important? It didn't stop the project, but the amount of units were cut in half. Nice report.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)