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What makes an oxidation state common?

  1. Feb 26, 2010 #1
    This isn't a homework question, but seemed sufficiently low-level that it belonged in this part of the forum.

    When one speaks of "common" oxidation states, what is meant by "common?" Is this simply to say the states most commonly occurring in nature? This would be opposed to most commonly used in industry, or maybe just meaning using requiring common methods and energy to obtain (as opposed to, say, Brookhaven).

    "Most common in nature" would be intuitive, but as important as nomenclature is in chemistry, I'd rather ask an obvious question than make a false assumption.

    Thanks for your time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I doubt there is a precise meaning of the term. Mostly occuring in nature will do, although remember that this can be misleading. At present the most abundant oxidation state of iron on Earth is Fe(III) - but before oxygen became part of the atmosphere it was Fe(II).

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