Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Oxidation states of transition metals when reactions occur

  1. Apr 15, 2012 #1
    When metals such as sodium react with an acid, a salt and hydrogen gas is produced. and we know for sure the oxidation state of sodium in the compound will be +1. But for other metals such as iron, when they rest with acids which oxidation state do I use? I'm unsure if I'm supposed to use the lowest oxidation first as when iron reacts with an acid its oxidation state is +2 first. But for other metals which one do I use first such as copper?

    Thanks for. The help guys! :smile:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2012 #2

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    There is no simple answer to that other than "use standard potentials table" (but I think even then you can be wrong in some specific cases).

    If there is nothing else present (that is, the only oxidizing agent is H+) iron gets oxidized to Fe(II), as E0 for Fe(II)/Fe(III) oxidation is way too high.

    From the same table you can read copper doesn't dissolve in non-oxidizing acids, so the question about products is a moot.
     
  4. Apr 15, 2012 #3
    So for most of the stuff there's no real rule to follow rather its based on empirical data? Thanks for the help Borek!
     
  5. Apr 15, 2012 #4

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Rules are made up from the empirical data, after all it is reality that defines what happens, not rules that we invent.
     
  6. Apr 15, 2012 #5

    DrDu

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Oxidation state is not a fundamental property of atoms but in fact little more than a mnemotechnics to balance equations. It is quite astonishing that it can be used to systematize to some extent chemical compounds but one should be aware of its limitations.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Oxidation states of transition metals when reactions occur
Loading...