The charge of an ion is a result of the atom gaining or losing electrons. Determining this is the difference between the number of protons and the current number of electrons. For instance, an atom of potassium that has lost an electron would have a +1 charge.
In an ionic compound ions will always combine in a ratio that produces a net charge of zero. For example, the calcium ion has a 2+ charge and the chloride ion has a 1- charge. Therefore there the formula of calcium chloride is CaCl2, with 1 calcium ion and 2 chloride ions. In another example, the aluminum ion carries a 3+ charge and the oxide ion carries a 2- charge. Therefore 2 aluminum ions will combine with 3 oxide ions to form Al2O3.
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