Redox paradox

  • Thread starter joeyjo100
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Not particually a paradox, just liked the word play. Anyway...

The definition of a redox reaction is a reaction with both reduction and oxidation. As we know, oxidation is loss, reduction is gain of electrons. So redox is a reaction with both loss and gain of reaction.

Does it follow that every single reaction in the universe is a redox reaction, since a reaction is the transfer of electrons?

Are there any reactions that don't involve the movement of electrons?
 

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  • #2
Borek
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Every reaction means electrons are moving, no doubt about it. However, it is not always clear to which atom they belong in a molecule (it is safer to think about them being shared), so it is not always easy to say "this atom lost an electron", "this atom gained an electron".
 
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Does it follow that every single reaction in the universe is a redox reaction, since a reaction is the transfer of electrons?
but there are many reactions that are classed as "redox" even though no electron transfer occurs (such as those involving covalent bonds) -Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redox" [Broken]
 
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  • #4
Borek
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This is one of these cases when wiki fails to explain things properly.

Wiki combines redox processes with change in oxidation number. That's where the problem starts. Oxidation numbers are not combined with any existing property of the matter, you can't measure oxidation number. You can only calculate it, using set of rules. And the problem here is that these rules were designed for a "charge accounting". They do give correct results when you trace the charges, but the underlying principle is charge conservation, not oxidation numbers which are just an accounting device.

When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. When you use oxidation numbers every reaction looks like a redox.
 

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