Examples of Oxidation

We explain that what are examples of Oxidation? The oxidation is the chemical reaction in which oxygen combines with other elements, such as metals, non – metals and metalloids. The oxidation process begins when the atoms of such substances are unstable, either by contact with the environment or by extreme conditions. This allows electrons to give up , which will receive oxygen and new compounds called oxides will form .

Types of oxidation

The above definition of oxidation is the best known. However, this word also describes other specific chemical phenomena. Therefore, there are three types of oxidation:

  1. Corrosion , in which the aforementioned combination of oxygen with metals occurs.
  2. The increase in the valence or oxidation state.
  3. The combustion , which is the oxidation of organic matter. Its products are heat and gases.
  4. The oxidation of biochemical compounds in fruits and vegetables.


The corrosion is the phenomenon whereby the metal wear due to the formation of their oxides . When exposed to an environment full of moisture and air, the atoms on their surface are prone to react with nearby oxygen, producing a layer of oxide that will weaken the material and render it useless to withstand mechanical work.

Corrosion can be described with the following chemical equation:

metal + oxygen -> metal oxide

For example:

2Fe + O 2 -> 2FeO

Iron + oxygen -> iron oxide II

Corrosion is dangerous when it comes to mechanical parts that operate inside machinery, which is why stainless steel and other alloys that are not very vulnerable to oxygen are used more frequently. This risk is unique to metals, since non-metals and metalloids are not used for components like this.

Increase in valence

The increase in valence is best observed in a chemical reaction with two reactants . Here, both are going to affect each other to generate the products. From one side of the equation to the other, it can be seen that one of the elements has increased its valence and another has seen it decreased. This is due to the exchange of electrons that happens during the interaction.

This type of reaction is called a REDOX reaction .

The element that increased its valence has oxidized . The element that saw its valence decreased has been reduced . For example, in the reaction:

3Cu + 8HNO 3 -> 3Cu (NO 3 ) 2 + 2NO + 4H 2 O

The pure elements , in this case copper (Cu), have a valence of 0. So this happens to have a valence of +2 to join the nitrate ion (NO 3 ) and both become copper nitrate II Cu (NO 3 ) 2 . The copper is oxidized .

Nitrogen N, present in the reagent HNO 3 and in the products Cu (NO 3 ) 2 and NO, has a notable change in valence from +5 in nitric acid HNO 3 to +2 in nitric oxide NO. The nitrogen is reduced .


It is correct to say that combustion is the oxidation of organic matter . In this reaction, the molecule, made up of carbon and hydrogen chains, is affected by a spark or a large amount of heat and begins to combine with the oxygen in the environment. This causes it to break down into simpler compounds:

  • Each carbon C atom will be converted to carbon dioxide CO 2 and carbon monoxide CO, releasing a large amount of heat energy.
  • Each hydrogen atom H will turn into water vapor H 2 O, which will be released from the breaking of the bond between carbon and hydrogen CH.

Oxidation of biochemical compounds

Fruits and vegetables show oxidation when they are not consumed in their fresh state. When in contact with the ambient air for a long time, its biochemical compounds such as carbohydrates begin to combine with oxygen and break down into smaller molecules of alcohols . This gives them a dark coloration and a bitter taste that, depending on the weather, can become unbearable.

A curious effect occurs when a potato, an avocado, a banana, an apple or a lettuce is oxidized. Structural changes occur in the organic molecule, which affect the interaction with the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum of light, causing the oxidized portion of the plant to absorb a certain wavelength , which results in chromatic perception, that is, , the color black. We perceive that dark color because the molecules resulting from oxidation absorb certain wavelengths.

30 examples of oxidation

  1. The oxidation of iron to iron oxide or rust, which is a red-orange powder.
  2. The oxidation of aluminum to aluminum oxide or alum, which is a crystalline mineral that can take on various colors. According to them it is known as ruby, sapphire, emerald.
  3. The oxidation of zinc to zinc oxide, which has a dark gray color.
  4. The oxidation of copper to copper oxide, which has a blue-green color. It is the one that over time has formed the statue of liberty in the United States.
  5. The oxidation of silver causes it to darken and form a layer of black oxide.
  6. The oxidation of the avocado with oxygen from the air, which turns it from green to black.
  7. The oxidation of the potato with oxygen from the air. When you cut yourself, you expose yourself to it and darken.
  8. The oxidation of a banana, with everything and peel, when it is left for a long time without consuming.
  9. The oxidation of an apple when being cut. Its yellowish white pulp turns brown.
  10. The oxidation of bronze. The material takes on a greenish color due to the proportion of copper it contains.
  11. The putrefaction of meat. This causes the protein and fat molecules to oxidize and form some very foul smelling amines.
  12. Combustion of methane CH 4 , which produces carbon dioxide CO 2 and water vapor H 2
  13. Combustion of acetylene C 2 H 2 , which produces carbon dioxide CO 2 and water vapor H 2
  14. Combustion of ethane C 2 H 6 , which produces carbon dioxide CO 2 and water vapor H 2
  15. The combustion of propane C 3 H 8 , which produces carbon dioxide CO 2 and water vapor H 2
  16. The combustion of butane C 4 H 10 , which produces carbon dioxide CO 2 and water vapor H 2
  17. The combustion of gasoline, which produces combustion gases, soot, and water vapor.
  18. The combustion of wood, which is a reaction of cellulose with oxygen.
  19. The combustion of jet fuel in an airplane.
  20. The combustion of ethyl ether in an engine, to increase power.
  21. The combustion reaction of cotton.
  22. The reaction that happens when plastic is burned.
  23. Combustion in the wick of a candle, which sustains the flame.
  24. The combustion of highly volatile ethyl alcohol.
  25. Burning coal on a spit.
  26. The oxidation of calcium turns it into a white powder which is calcium oxide.
  27. The oxidation of sulfur produces sulfur dioxide gas SO 2 .
  28. The oxidation of sulfur dioxide gas produces a new gas, which is sulfur trioxide SO 3 .
  29. The oxidation of nitrogen gas at high temperatures produces nitric oxide gas N 2
  30. The oxidation of nitrogen gas at much higher temperatures produces nitric oxide gas NO.

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