What are basic oxides?

Basic oxides

An oxide is a type of mixture that results from the union of a metallic- type element with a non-metallic- type element with oxygen . Oxides can be found most of the time in liquid, solid or gaseous environments and there are several types of them. The basic oxides , also known by the name of metal oxides are based on this classification, and result from the combination with metals.

Basic oxides | What are they, characteristics, structure, properties, uses

What are basic oxides?

The basic oxides are one type of chemical that occurs when oxygen is achieved bind to a type element metal or, in other words, to a metal through a link -type ion .

  • Characteristics of basic oxides
  • Structure
  • Formula
  • Nomenclature
  • Physical properties of basic oxides
  • Chemical properties
  • How they are formed
  • Uses of basic oxides
  • Risks

Characteristics of basic oxides

The main characteristics of basic oxides are mentioned below:

  • Basic oxides are a binary type compound that result from the combination of oxygen with a metal.
  • The union of its compounds is made by means of an ionic type bond .
  • They are created mainly by electropositive elements .
  • Its melting and boiling points are generally quite high .
  • Most of them are not soluble in water but some may be soluble in acids.
  • They also have a high density .
  • Their ionization energy is relatively low.


The structure of the basic oxides will depend on the type of compound that is formed, so they are usually very varied and different, which are generally polymeric .


The type of formula that is used to describe and represent the basic oxides is XO where the letter X represent the metal element while the letter O will represent the molecule of oxygen . In their formulas it is common to find different subscripts, which are presented in the form of numbers.


There are three different types through which the correct nomenclature of basic oxides can be made, these are:

Traditional nomenclature

In this case, they are named by first mentioning the word ” oxide of ” and later the name of the metallic element is added . To do this, the following steps must be followed.

  • When metals only have one valence , such as sodium, which has a valence of 1+, the metal should be written with sdrugal words and using the ending ” ico “, for example: sodium oxide.
  • In the case of metals that have two valences, such as copper that has (1+ and 2+), when the oxide has a lower valence than the metal, then the name of the metal should be added the suffix ” bear ”, also forming a grave word . When the valence is greater , the suffix “ico” is added to form a word esdrújula . For example: curpy oxide, mercurous oxide.
  • When the metal has four valences then the same process as mentioned above must be followed except when the metal is integrated into the oxide using a higher valence, in this case the prefix “per ” and the suffix “ico” must be added. . For example: hypomanganous oxide, permanganic oxide.

Stock Nomenclature

In this case, the oxides must be written and named as ” oxide of …”, then the metallic element must be placed and finally, between parentheses , a Roman numeral that will be in charge of indicating the valence with which the metallic element it is interacting with oxygen. In the event that the metallic element only has one valence, then this should not be indicated in the name. For example: nickel (II) oxide.

Systemic nomenclature

With this type of nomenclature, the basic oxides must keep the word ” oxide of ” but also add the standard Greek prefix that indicates the exact amount of oxygen atoms that are present. This is the type of nomenclature recommended by the IUPAC .

Physical properties of basic oxides

Its main physical properties are varied and are as follows:

  • They can be found in nature as crystalline- type solids .
  • They are usually insoluble although they can also be attacked by bases and acids.
  • They can be in a gaseous state when they are at room temperatures.
  • In terms of color , odor and degree of solubility , these can vary depending on the type of compound that is formed.
  • They have high points of boiling and melting .
  • They have low levels of ionization .
  • They have a fairly high density .
  • When formed with elements that are considered highly electropositive, they have the ability to be in solid states.

Chemical properties

Among its most outstanding chemical properties are the following:

  • Basic oxides have the ability to be reduced using different types of reagents and some of them simply using heat through the electrolysis reaction .
  • They can lead to corrosion in metals through oxidation .
  • They are capable of reacting with water to produce bases and of reacting with acids to produce salts .

How they are formed

For training, one must remember that the oxides can be formed from the alkali metals which are able to obtain through the heating of the nitrate of the metal. Then, to form basic oxides from alkaline earth metals , their carbonates must be heated and this is done following the equation:

OLS 3 + Heat → MO + CO 2

They can also be obtained from oxygen treatment :

2MS + 3O 2 + Heat → 2MO + 2SO 2

Finally, they can also be produced through the oxidation of some types of metals through the following reaction:

2Cu + 8HNO3 + Heat → 2CuO + 8NO2 + 4H2O + O2

Uses of basic oxides

Basic oxides are compounds that are used mainly in the industrial field for the production of fertilizers that fight the acidity of the soils. Various types of fertilizers are also manufactured using basic acids and in the medical field they are used to manufacture different types of medications which are used mainly to combat heartburn. They work very well, some of them, as an antidote to poisoning. Magnesium oxide is used as a term conductor and is also used in construction to make walls more resistant to fires.

They can also be used in the manufacture of paints and colorants , creams with antiseptic properties and even in various cosmetic products such as zinc oxide. Some are necessary for the proper manufacture of glass, such as lead oxide. Sodium oxide, for example, is widely used in the manufacture of ceramics and acts as a precursor in the creation of caustic soda and cleaning products .


The risks associated with the use of basic oxides are mainly based on the type of compound that is formed. Many of them have the ability to burn the skin and membranes. When ingested , some can cause a series of symptoms such as diarrhea , nausea , headache , cardiac arrhythmias and can even produce muscle paralysis . In addition, various types of basic oxides are also harmful to the environment and to aquatic organisms .

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