Why are there multiple oxidation states?

1 Answer
Jun 17, 2018

Answer:

Because the same elements can react with each other in DIFFERENT proportions...

Explanation:

See here and links....

The oxidation state of an element in a chemical compound or as the element is of course a formalism, however, it is a very useful formalism that allows us to balance quite complicated redox equations straightforwardly.

The oxides of nitrogen provide a nice array of oxidation states. #NO#, i.e. #N(+II)#; #NO_2#, i.e. #N(+IV)#, #N_2O_5#, #N(+V)#, #NO_3^(-)#, #N(+V)#...#NO_2^(-)#, #N(+III)#...

And of course in this series the oxidation number of oxygen is constant at #-II#...oxygen can exhibit the #-I# oxidation state peroxides. Elemental dioxygen and dinitrogen each have formal #0# oxidation states..