# What is the oxidation number for carbon?

Mar 5, 2014

Carbon and Silicon are unique in that both elements have an oxidation number of +/- 4.

Carbon has an electron configuration of
$1 {s}^{2} 2 {s}^{2} 2 {p}^{4}$

in order to achieve the stability of the rule of octet carbon can try and gain four electrons to complete the outer shell the 2p orbital or lose four electrons.

If carbon gains four electrons it become -4 or ${C}^{-} 4$
If carbon loses four electrons it become +4 or ${C}^{+ 4}$

However, carbon actually prefers to bond covalently and form chains or rings with other carbon atoms in order to achieve the stability of the rule of octet.