What is the Difference Between Chromate and Dichromate

The main difference between chromate and dichromate is that chromate has four oxygen atoms, whereas dichromate has seven.

Chromate and dichromate are chemical species derived from chromium, each with unique properties and applications. These compounds play crucial roles in various industrial processes and analytical chemistry and are important components in diverse chemical reactions.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Chromate  
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is Dichromate
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between Chromate and Dichromate
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Chromate and Dichromate
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Chromate and Dichromate
      – Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Chromate, Dichromate

Difference Between Chromate and Dichromate - Comparison Summary

What is Chromate

Chromate is a chemical compound containing the chromate ion, denoted as CrO42-. It is a vibrant yellow polyatomic ion derived from chromium. Widely utilized in various industrial applications, chromates exhibit diverse properties, making them valuable in fields such as metallurgy, pigments, and corrosion inhibition.

One prominent use of chromates is in the production of chrome pigments, which impart a distinct yellow color to various materials, including paints and dyes. The durability and resistance to fading make chromate pigments highly desirable for applications requiring long-lasting and vibrant colors.

Compare Chromate and Dichromate

Figure 1: Potassium Chromate

In metallurgy, chromates play a crucial role as corrosion inhibitors. When applied as a coating, chromate compounds create a protective layer on metal surfaces, shielding them from corrosion caused by exposure to environmental factors like moisture and oxygen. This corrosion resistance makes chromate coatings valuable in aerospace, automotive, and construction industries, where metal structures are prone to deterioration.

Despite their utility, chromates have faced environmental concerns due to their toxicity. Hexavalent chromium, a form of chromium present in chromates, is known to pose health risks, including respiratory and skin irritation. Efforts have been made to reduce the use of hexavalent chromium compounds and promote the development of alternative, less harmful corrosion inhibitors.

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on the environmentally friendly disposal and treatment of chromate-containing waste. Strict regulations and guidelines aim to minimize the environmental impact of chromate compounds, encouraging industries to adopt sustainable practices and explore alternative technologies.

What is Dichromate

Dichromate refers to chemical compounds containing the chromate ion in which two of the oxygen atoms are replaced by oxygen atoms. The most common example is potassium dichromate, a vibrant orange-red crystalline solid. This compound has diverse applications, primarily owing to its oxidizing properties and distinctive color.

In laboratory settings, potassium dichromate serves as a powerful oxidizing agent. Its ability to transfer electrons makes it useful in various chemical reactions, including the oxidation of alcohols to corresponding carbonyl compounds. The compound is a crucial component in the Jones oxidation, a widely employed method for converting primary and secondary alcohols to their respective aldehydes and ketones.

Chromate vs Dichromate

Figure 2: Potassium Dichromate

The vivid color of potassium dichromate is indicative of its electron transfer capabilities. The orange-red hue arises from the absorption of light in the visible spectrum due to electronic transitions within the chromate ion. This color change is often exploited in analytical chemistry for titrations. The substance can be titrated against a reducing agent, and the endpoint is reached when the orange color disappears, signifying the complete reduction of dichromate to chromium(III) ions.

Beyond the laboratory, potassium dichromate has applications in industries such as photography, where it is used as a component in light-sensitive materials. Additionally, it plays a role in the manufacturing of safety matches, imparting the characteristic color and contributing to the ignition process.

It is important to note that while potassium dichromate has valuable uses, it poses health and environmental risks. Chromium is a heavy metal, and exposure to it, especially in its hexavalent state, can have adverse effects. Consequently, there is a push towards finding alternative compounds with less environmental impact.

Similarities Between Chromate and Dichromate

  • They both contain chromium and oxygen.
  • These compounds are involved in oxidation and reduction reactions.

Difference Between Chromate and Dichromate


Chromate is a chemical compound with one chromium atom and four oxygen atoms, while dichromate is a chemical compound with two chromium atoms and seven oxygen atoms.


Chromate ions are typically yellow, imparting a yellow color to compounds containing them. Dichromate ions, on the other hand, are orange in color.

Act as

Dichromate ions can act as both an acid and a base, whereas chromate ions primarily act as bases.


Chromate salts are generally more soluble in water compared to dichromate salts.

Chemical Behavior

Chromate ions are relatively less powerful oxidizing agents compared to dichromate ions.

FAQ: Chromate and Dichromate

Is dichromate more acidic than chromate?

The chromate ion is the predominant species in alkaline solutions, but dichromate can become the predominant ion in acidic solutions.

How are chromate and dichromate similar?

The oxidation state of Cr in chromate ion as well as in dichromate ion is +6.

Why is chromate yellow and dichromate orange?

One of the main reasons for the colouring of chromate and dichromate anions is the presence of transition ions (chromate (vi) ions).


Chromate is a chemical compound with one chromium atom and four oxygen atoms, while dichromate is a chemical compound with two chromium atoms and seven oxygen atoms. Thus, this is the main difference between chromate and dichromate.


1. “What is Chromate?” Byju’s.
2. “What is Dichromate?” Byju’s.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Potassium-chromate-sample” By Ben Mills – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Potassium-dichromate-sample” By Benjah-bmm27 – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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