Difference Between Oxidation And Reduction

The Key Difference Between Oxidation And Reduction is that Reduction is a chemical reaction that involves the gain in the electron. This reaction occurs when the oxidation number goes down on an element. The status of the element will get reduced in this reaction.


The reverse of this reaction is oxidation. This is a chemical reaction that occurs by the loss of electrons. When this happens, the element suffers an increase in its oxidation number. The term oxidation was first used by Lavoisier and Berthollet in the 18th century. The word oxidation comes from ‘oxys’, the ancient Greek term for acid.

What is Oxidation?

Oxidation is a chemical reaction that involves the loss of electrons by one reactant. It can be defined as a process in which a substance loses electrons. A chemical reaction in which a substance donates an electron pair is called reduction. Oxidation and reduction reactions occur simultaneously in a cell because electron transport processes provide the major mechanism for the transport of energy from one part of a cell to another.

What is Reduction?

Reduction is the process in which a substance is converted from a gaseous state to an anatomically solid state. This process can be followed by the loss of electrons or gain of electrons. Reduction is one of the four fundamental processes of chemistry, the other 3 being Oxidation, Acid-Base, and Fermentation.

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Oxidation and reduction in terms of oxygen transfer

Antoine Lavoisier first used the term oxidation in 1787 to describe a mixed reaction involving oxygen. Therefore, the addition of oxygen is called oxidation.

For example, the combination of calcium and oxygen in the following reaction is oxidation.

2Ca(s) + O2(g) → 2CaO(s)

The term “reduction”, which comes from Latin and means “return”, is associated with the loss of oxygen. For the first time, Justus von Liebig stated that reduction consists in removing oxygen and adding hydrogen.

For example, by reacting with carbon monoxide, metal oxide converts to all metals. This includes the removal of oxygen.

CO + CaO → CO2 + Ca

Oxidation and reduction in terms of transfer of electrons

Oxidation is the loss of electrons and oxidation is the gain of electrons. for example,

CuO + Mg → Cu + MgO

In this reaction, magnesium is a reducing agent. It reduces copper(II) ions to neutral copper providing two electrons. Magnesium ions are formed after the loss of these two electrons.

Copper receives electrons and is reduced.
Magnesium loses electrons and oxidizes.


The oxidation and reduction processes are complementary. In a chemical reaction, when a compound releases one or more electrons, it is called oxidation. These lost electrons are found through another compound that is said to have been reduced. Oxidizing agents accelerate the oxidation process and reducing agents accelerate the reduction process.

The oxidant itself is reduced to oxidize another species and the reducing agent itself is oxidized to reduce other species. Common examples of oxidants are ozone, oxygen, halogens, etc., and common examples of reducing agents are earth metals and sulfite compounds.


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