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QUESTION

# What's the difference between ionization and dissociation?

Ionization is a special case of dissociation.

Dissociation is a process in which separate or split into smaller particles.

We might write the general equation as

"A-B" → "A + B"

For example,

"NaCl(s)" → "Na"^+"(aq)" + "Cl"^"-""(aq)"

In this case, the solid "NaCl" consists of "Na"^+ and "Cl"^"-" ions.

All they are doing when "NaCl" dissolves is separating from each other.

When the substance already contains ions, the process is often called dissociation.

Many also dissociate in water to form ions.

For example,

"HF(aq)" ⇌ "H"^+"(aq)" + "F"^"-""(aq)"

When covalent compounds dissolve in water to produce ions, the dissociation process is often called ionization.

Here's a great video on ionization and dissociation.