Understanding Oxidation

  1. In the case of bleach (NaClO), why does the oxygen leave this molecule to react with other things? I understand that bleach leaves a NaCl residue and that the oxygen portion of bleach is responsible for its ability to kill bacteria and oxidize various other chemicals. I only ask this due to the fact that oxygen is bonded to chlorine in this instance where chlorine is quite electronegative. Wouldn't it be more attracted to the chlorine? Or is this an energy scenario where oxygen leaves to achieve a lower energy maybe? I guess I'm missing the big picture. Anyone care to enlighten me on this subject?
  2. jcsd
  3. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    It is not as simple as oxygen leaving the molecule - even if the final product is NaCl, there are many possible pathways that lead there. Have you ever smelled the bleach? What does it smell of?
  4. True. It does smell of chlorine. Let me get this straight. In the bleach bottle (an aqueous solution), NaClO dissociates into Na+ and ClO-, and some of the ClO- gets broken down into Cl- and O2-? But how? Considering both Cl- and O2- are very reactive, the both could create diatomic molecules, Cl2 and O2, or perhaps Cl- could run into a Na+ as the water is evaporating and make NaCl. Perhaps it's just how the molecules collide in the solution maybe? Is this considered kinetics? Am I on the right track or way off?

    Sorry if this gives anyone a headache, I've taken College Chem I and got an A even, but I've found it just didn't explain a lot to me as far as understanding a lot of "practical" applications.
  5. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Reacting with water ClO- can decompose into elemental oxygen and chlorine. Chlorine can react with any reducing agent present, producing Cl- - no need for ClO- producing Cl- directly.
  6. Okay. Thank you Borek.
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