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We have in our earlier course defined oxidation as the addition of oxygen to an element or compound. The formation of sodium oxide, Na2O from sodium and oxygen may be represented by the equation:

                                                              4Na + O2   →   4 ( Na+) 2O2-

This equation can also be split into two halves to show that this reaction is also an electron transfer reaction. Each sodium atom loses an electron to form sodium ion:

                                                               [ Na   →   Na+ + e- ] x 4

And each oxygen molecule gains electrons to form oxide ions:

                                                               O2 + 4e  →       2O2-

on combining the two equation, the overall reaction is,

                                                4Na + O2   →   4 ( Na+ ) 2O2-  or   2Na2O

In this reaction sodium undergoes loss of an electron. It is said to have been oxidized to sodium ion (Na+). An atom is said to have been oxidized if it loses electrons. Oxidation is a process which involves the loss of electrons. According to this definition of oxidation, many substances like oxygen, halogens and other non-metals can act as oxidizing agents, i.e., oxidize other substances. They are said to be oxidizing agents. Any substance that accepts electrons, for example, non-metals such as oxygen, sculpture and the halogen, can behave as oxidizing agents. if an aqueous solution of chlorines added to a cloudless aqueous solution of an iodide or if chlorine gas is passed through an iodide solution, the solution becomes brown due to the formation of iodine.

                                                        CI2 + 2I-  →   2CI- + I2

This means, chlorine oxidizes iodide ion to iodine.

The loss of electron during oxidation may result in :

(i)    increase of positive charge on atom or ion undergoing oxidation.
For example,

                                                         Na - e      →      Na+
                                                         AI - 3e       →     AI3+
                                                         Fe2+ - e     →    Fe3+
                                                         Sn2+ - 2e   →     Sn4+

(ii)    decrease of negative charge on atom or  ion undergoing oxidation.
For example,

                                                          2I- - 2e   →    I2
                                                          S2- - 2e     →   S
                                                     MnO42- - e   →   MnO4-
                                             [ Fe (CN )6 ] 4- - e   →   [ Fe (CN )6 ] 3-

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