What are oxidation and reduction? How do they differ?

1 Answer


Oxidation is the loss of electrons or an increase in oxidation state. Reduction is the gain of electrons or a decrease in oxidation state.


Here is a basic example of a redox reaction.

#CO+H_2O# ------> #CO_2+H_2#

In this equation, the carbon monoxide (CO) is oxidized and becomes carbon dioxide (#CO_2#). As the carbon is oxidized it changes from a +2 to a +4 oxidation state.

The water (#H_2O#) is reduced and becomes hydrogen (#H_2#). The hydrogen changes from a +1 oxidation state to an oxidation state of 0 in this process.

Here is a video which summarizes a different example of a redox reaction and shows a cool example of a reaction which precipitates silver.

Hope this helps!