Oxidation Reaction and Reduction Reaction

Introduction to Oxidation Reaction and Reduction Reaction

In the world of chemistry, there are fascinating transformations happening all around us, even if we can’t see them with our naked eye. Two of the most crucial chemical processes are oxidation and reduction reactions. These reactions play a vital role in our everyday lives, from rust forming on a bicycle to the energy we get from the food we eat. In this article, we’re going to explore what oxidation and reduction reactions are, provide examples, delve into the equations that describe them, and explain the concept of electron transfer. By the end of this journey, you’ll have a clear understanding of these essential chemical processes that shape our world. 

What is Oxidation? 

Oxidation is a chemical process in which a substance loses electrons, resulting in an increase in its oxidation number. It is often associated with an increase in oxygen atoms or the addition of an electronegative element to a compound. In simpler terms, oxidation can be defined as the loss of electrons or an increase in oxidation state. 

Oxidation Examples 

The oxidation reaction examples are described below,

Rusting of Iron: 

When iron comes in contact with oxygen and moisture in the air, it undergoes oxidation, forming hydrated iron(III) oxide, commonly known as rust. The reaction can be represented by the following equation: 

\(4Fe+3 O_{2}+6 H_{2}O \mapsto 4Fe (OH)^{3} \)


When a substance combusts, it reacts with oxygen from the air, resulting in oxidation. For example, burning of wood entails the oxidation of carbon compounds present in the wood. 

Oxidation of Glucose: 

In cellular respiration, glucose undergoes oxidation in the presence of oxygen, releasing energy. This process occurs in our bodies and is vital for the production of ATP, the main energy-carrying molecule in cells. 

Oxidation Reaction Equation 

An oxidation reaction equation is a representation of a chemical reaction involving the process of oxidation. It typically shows the reactants, the products, and the electrons lost during the oxidation process. For example, the oxidation of magnesium can be represented by the equation: 

\(Mg+ O_{2} \mapsto MgO\)

In Simple, Chemists like to express chemical reactions using equations. In the case of oxidation, an equation typically looks like this:

\(SubstanceA+Oxygen \mapsto Oxidized Substance A\)

For example, the oxidation of hydrogen gas (

) can be written as:

\(2 H_{2}+ O_{2} \mapsto 2 H_{2}O\)

This equation shows that two molecules of hydrogen gas react with one molecule of oxygen gas to produce two molecules of water.

Electron Transfer in Oxidation Reactions 

In oxidation reactions, electrons are transferred from the oxidized substance to a reducing agent. This transfer can occur through a variety of mechanisms such as direct contact, electron transport chains, or electron carriers like NAD+ or FAD. The final result is the increase in the oxidation state of the oxidized substance. 

What is Reduction? 

Reduction, on the other hand, is a chemical process in which a substance gains electrons, leading to a decrease in its oxidation number. It is generally characterized by a decrease in the number of oxygen atoms or the removal of an electronegative element from a compound. In simpler terms, a reduction can be understood as the gain of electrons or a decrease in the oxidation state. 

Reduction Examples 

The following are the reduction reaction examples,

Reduction of Iron(III) Oxide: 

Iron(III) oxide can be reduced to elemental iron by the reaction with carbon monoxide in a process known as the Mond process. The equation for this reaction is: 

\(Fe_{2} O_{3}+3CO \mapsto 2Fe+3C O_{2}\)

Formation of Hydrogen Gas: 

The reduction of water by a reactive metal, such as sodium or potassium, results in the liberation of hydrogen gas. This can be represented by the equation: 

\(2 H_{2}O+2Na \mapsto 2NaOH+ H_{2}\)

Reduction of Copper Oxide: 

Copper oxide can be reduced to metallic copper by heating it with charcoal or hydrogen gas. The reaction can be represented as follows: 

\(CuO+ H_{2} \mapsto Cu+ H_{2}O\)

Reduction Reaction Equation 

Similarly, a reduction reaction equation represents a chemical reaction where reduction occurs. It illustrates the reactants, products, and electrons gained during the reduction process. An example of a reduction reaction equation is the reduction of chlorine gas by hydrogen gas: 

\(H_{2} + Cl_{2} \mapsto 2HCl\)

Electron Transfer in Reduction Reactions

Conversely, in reduction reactions, electrons are gained by the reduced substance from an oxidizing agent. The electron transfer can occur through similar mechanisms as mentioned earlier, leading to a decrease in the oxidation state of the reduced substance.

What is Redox Reaction?

Oxidation and reduction often occur together in what we call redox (short for reduction-oxidation) reactions. These reactions involve the transfer of electrons from one substance to another.

For example, when you burn wood, it’s a redox reaction. The carbon in the wood undergoes oxidation as it combines with oxygen from the air to form carbon dioxide. At the same time, oxygen undergoes reduction as it gains electrons from the carbon. This simultaneous oxidation and reduction make it a redox reaction.

Balancing Redox Reaction 

Balancing redox reactions involves ensuring that the number of electrons lost in oxidation is equal to the number of electrons gained in reduction. This can be accomplished using oxidation numbers and half-reactions, a method known as the ion-electron method or the half-reaction method. 

Let’s elaborate the concept of balancing redox reaction,

Balancing redox reactions can be a bit tricky, but it’s essential to ensure that the number of electrons lost in oxidation equals the number of electrons gained in reduction. Chemists use a method called the half-reaction method to balance redox equations. This method involves splitting the reaction into two half-reactions—one for oxidation and one for reduction—and balancing them separately.

For instance, in the reaction between hydrogen peroxide \(H_{2} O_{2} \)and potassium permanganate \(KMn O_{4} \) you can split it into two half-reactions:

Oxidation half-reaction: \( H_{2} O_{2} \mapsto O_{2}\)

Reduction half-reaction: \(Mn O_{4} ^{-} \mapsto Mn^{2+}\)

Redox Reaction Examples 

The redox reaction reaction examples are given below,

  • Rusting of Iron:  As discussed earlier, the rusting of iron is a redox reaction where iron is oxidized, and oxygen is reduced. 
  • Disproportionation of Chlorine: Chlorine can undergo a redox reaction in which some chlorine atoms are simultaneously oxidized and reduced, resulting in the formation of both Cl2 and HCl. 
  • Photosynthesis: During photosynthesis, plants convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen. This process involves the reduction of carbon dioxide and the oxidation of water. 
  • Cellular Respiration: In your body’s cells, glucose is oxidized to produce energy. This energy release is crucial for your body’s functions.

Difference Between Oxidation and Reduction

The difference between oxidation reaction and reduction reaction is tabulated below, 

Aspect  Oxidation  Reduction 
Definition  Involves the loss of electrons  Involves the gain of electrons 
Electron Transfer  Electrons are lost  Electrons are gained 
Oxidation State  Increases  Decreases 
Example  Iron rusting (Fe → Fe²⁺ + 2e⁻)  Photosynthesis (CO₂ + 6H₂O + 6e⁻ → C₆H₁₂O₆ + 6O₂) 
Common Occurrence  Corrosion of metals, combustion  Photosynthesis, cellular respiration 
Symbolic Representation  Oxidation is represented by an arrow pointing to the right (→).  Reduction is represented by an arrow pointing to the left (←). 

It is the major difference between oxidation and reduction. 

Final Notes

Oxidation and reduction reactions are fundamental processes in chemistry and have widespread applications in various fields. Understanding the principles behind these reactions allows us to comprehend numerous chemical phenomena, ranging from the rusting of metals to the energy production within our own cells. With their intricate electron transfer mechanisms, redox reactions shape the world around us. By exploring the examples and equations provided, you can delve deeper into the fascinating realm of oxidation and reduction. 

Hence, it is all about oxidation reaction and reduction reaction along with its examples. If you are looking for the best online tuition then Tutoroot will be the best option for you.  Click here to get a FREE DEMO from the industry’s best faculty!


Why are oxidation and reduction Important?
Oxidation and reduction are vital in chemistry because they drive chemical reactions, produce energy, and are involved in processes like rusting and photosynthesis.

What is the difference between oxidation and reduction?
Oxidation involves the loss of electrons and an increase in oxidation state, while reduction involves the gain of electrons and a decrease in oxidation state.

What is an oxidation reaction?
An oxidation reaction is a chemical process where a substance loses electrons and typically combines with oxygen or other oxidizing agents.

What is a reduction reaction?
A reduction reaction is a chemical process where a substance gains electrons, leading to a decrease in its oxidation state.

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