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Redox for covalently bonded species?

  1. Jan 19, 2007 #1
    What is the point of using the redox convention in describing reactions involving covalently bonded species? To me it is a very unnatural thing to do? A reaction can occur with a rearrangement of atoms but no change in oxidation numbers of the atoms so a redox reaction hasn't occured but a reaction in general has.

    I think using the redox convention involving metals is very natural as electons are easily seen to be transferred.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2007 #2
    Redox #'s are used simply as a method to have a handle on where electrons are moving. It is just something people invented to make their understanding of certain reactions easier.
  4. Jan 19, 2007 #3


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    What gives you the impression that there is no change in oxidation state when covalent species react? In fact, I'd venture that most changes in oxidation state are seen in fairly covalent compounds.
  5. Jan 20, 2007 #4
    I said some reactions between covalent species dosen't involve a change in oxidation states, not all.

    I don't see the importance of keeping oxidation numbers for colvalent bonded species. When two covalently bonded species react, what is the point of knowing which is the reductance and oxidant? These species will always 'think' they have valence shell filled. However with metals, a change in oxidation number reflects a change in the number of its valence shell electrons.
  6. Jan 21, 2007 #5


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    The "oxidation" and "reduction" may not be identical in definition with respect to organic compounds and actual redox reactions. Organic compounds can be oxidized or reduced; the carbon that is oxidized for instance, the secondary alcohol carbon to the carbonyl carbon of a ketone, is going to have an altered oxidation state as a result. You may or may not have been taught how to derive the numerical value for this concept on a particular atom in an organic compound but it isn't essentially equivalent to the formal charge.
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