What are the oxidation states exhibited by carbon in various molecules?

May 1, 2017

You want the oxidation number of elemental carbon?

Explanation:

Well, $\text{oxidation number}$ is the charge left on the central atom when all the bonds are broken, with the charge assigned to the most electronegative atom. And clearly, each carbon atom has the same electronegativity as the other carbon atoms, and electrons are PRESUMED to be shared with the other bound carbons.

So in elemental carbon (diamond or charcoal), we have ${C}^{0}$

And in methane, we have ${C}^{- I V}$;

And in ethane, we have ${C}^{- I I I}$;

And in propane, we have ${H}_{3} \stackrel{- I I I}{C} - \stackrel{- I I}{C} {H}_{2} - C {H}_{3}$;

And in carbon monoxide, we have $C \left(+ I I\right)$;

And the maximum oxidation state is expressed in $\stackrel{+ I V}{C} {O}_{2}$.