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Thread: Queries about oxidation and reduction

  1. #1 Queries about oxidation and reduction 
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    Hello

    I am having troubles with the correct usage of the terms "oxdised", "reduced", "oxidising agent", and "reducing agent". I understand the redox concept thoroughly, I would just like clarification on the usage of the words.

    I think the problem will be best illustrated using an example. Say, the reaction between Fe2O3 and CO:
    Fe2O3(s) + 3CO(g) --> 2Fe(l) + 3CO2(g)

    Oxidation numbers are as follows:
    Reactants:
    Fe = +3
    O = -2
    C = +2
    Products:
    Fe = 0
    C = +4
    O = -2

    Now here is the dilemma: Do I say "the Fe2O3 has been reduced, and has acted as the oxidising agent" or "the Fe has been reduced, and the Fe2O3 has acted as the oxidising agent", or a mixture of either. Is it the element that has been oxidised/reduced or the whole compound? Then, is it the whole compound or just the element that is the oxidising/reducing agent? Or does it depend on what the question is asking? Or does it even depend on whether it is ionic or covalent, because one ion may be oxidised/reduced independent of what has happened to the other.

    Please help, this is driving me crazy. Hopefully I explained my issue well enough.


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  3. #2  
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    LEO says GER

    Lose Electrons Oxidation
    Gain Electorns Reduction

    Great little memory device!


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  4. #3  
    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    OIL RIG is another one.

    Oxidation is loss.

    Reduction is gain.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheomualjy View Post
    Do I say "the Fe2O3 has been reduced, and has acted as the oxidising agent" or "the Fe has been reduced, and the Fe2O3 has acted as the oxidising agent", or a mixture of either. Is it the element that has been oxidised/reduced or the whole compound? Then, is it the whole compound or just the element that is the oxidising/reducing agent? Or does it depend on what the question is asking? Or does it even depend on whether it is ionic or covalent, because one ion may be oxidised/reduced independent of what has happened to the other.
    I think it makes more sense to refer to the element as being reduced or oxidised. It is the iron atom in Fe2O3 that is gaining electrons, so Fe is being reduced here. The 'reagent' that is donating the electrons to the Fe is CO, so CO is the reducing agent and Fe2O3 is the oxidising agent.

    Hope this helps.
    "The end of the evolution of the chemical elements was the spark that started another evolution journey the evolution of life on Earth." From The Cosmic History of The Elements by M. Eesa
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