How do you find oxidation numbers of elements?

1 Answer
Jul 26, 2016


Normally an element is zerovalent; that is it has an oxidation number of #0#.


When we assign oxidation numbers to atoms in molecules we formally separate charges and electrons. An element is conceived to have a #0# oxidation state, in that electron transfer has not taken place.

For instance in the simple combustion rxn:

#C + O_2 rarr CO_2#

The carbon is the reductant, and transfers electron to the oxidant; clearly a redox process is exemplified.