Oxidation, Reduction and Redox Reactions



  • Oxidation
  • Reduction
  • Redox Reactions
  • Oxidising agents and Reducing agents
  • Oxidation reactions in daily life
  • Oxidation number


Oxidation is the loss of electrons during a reaction by a molecule, atom or ion. Oxidation occurs when the oxidation state of a molecule, atom or ion is increased.

In an oxidation-reduction, or redox, reaction, one atom or compound will steal electrons from another atom or compound. A classic example of a redox reaction is rusting. When rusting happens, oxygen steals electrons from iron. Oxygen gets reduced while iron gets oxidized.

4Fe + 3O2 → 2Fe2O3

In simple terms, oxidation is the loss of electrons, and reduction is the gain of electrons.

The opposite process is called reduction, which occurs when there is a gain of electrons or the oxidation state of an atom, molecule, or ion decreases.


Reduction is a chemical reaction that involves the gaining of electrons by one of the atoms involved in the reaction between two elements. The term refers to the element that accepts electrons, as the oxidation state of the element that gains electrons is lowered.

Zn(s) + 2H+(aq) → Zn2+(aq) + H2(g)

IN THE REACTION, the H+ ions, with an oxidation number of +1, are reduced to H2, with an oxidation number of 0.

Another simple example of a Redox reaction is the reaction between copper oxide and magnesium to yield copper and magnesium oxide:

Rusting of iron is a process that involves oxidation and reduction. Oxygen is reduced, while iron is oxidized.

Fe(s)+ CuSO4(aq)→ FeSO4(aq)+ Cu(s)

The oxidation state of Fe changes from 0 to +2, and the oxidation state of Cu changes from +2 to 0.

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