What are redox reactions?

Redox reactions

In chemistry , there are a large number of chemical reactions or chemical changes that can occur in substances, a series of thermodynamic processes that can transform matter. One of these chemical reactions is known as the redox reaction , which, although it may not be mentioned much, happens everywhere, even in the human body.

Redox reactions |  What are, characteristics, types, representation, examples 

What are redox reactions?

The redox reactions are a type of reaction of redox that can occur in chemical reactions in which one presents exchange between electrons forming one atom and other molecules that are involved in the compound.

  • Characteristics of redox reactions
  • Types
  • Representation
  • Balance
  • Adjustment
  • Spontaneity
  • Applications of redox reactions
  • Experiments
  • Examples of redox reactions

Characteristics of redox reactions

Some of the main characteristics present in redox reactions are the following:

  • There is a change in the oxidation states that are present in the reactants.
  • In it you can find two types of reagents, one will be the oxidizing agent in charge of capturing the electrons and a reducing agent that will have the function of giving up the electrons while increasing the original oxidation state.
  • It is considered one of the most common chemical reactions .
  • It is part of important vital processes such as photosynthesis and respiration .
  • They have the ability to release large amounts of energy .
  • It is made up of two different stages, one of oxidation and the other of reduction .
  • They transfer electrons from one substance to another.


There are several types of redox reactions in which different types of substances are reduced and others are oxidized. In this way, we can find the following types of redox reactions.

  • Combustion : this type of redox reaction occurs between a compound and an oxygen molecule with the aim of producing oxygen. When it occurs, it has the potential to release large amounts of light and heat.
  • Disproportionation redox reactions : in this case, the reaction occurs when only one of the reactants is oxidized and at the same time reduced.
  • Simple displacement : also known as simple substitution reaction. It occurs when two elements manage to carry out an exchange in the places of the same compound, for example when dilute acids form salts and hydrogen as gas.
  • Oxidation of metals : they are a little slower and in them the degradation of some mainly metallic materials occurs due to the action that oxygen produces in them.
  • Disproportion : it is also known by the name of dismutation reaction and in it there is only one reactant which has the ability to be reduced and oxidized at the same time.
  • Simple displacement : they occur when two elements can exchange their positions within the same compound, in other words, one element replaces the other.


In redox reactions there are elements that can be reduced and others oxidized. The first group gains electrons while the second loses them because the movement of electrons from one place to another occurs in the reaction. Graphically it can be represented as follows:


The balance of the redox reactions is by means of a method of changing the oxidation numbers and this process is based on the fact that when increasing numbers of oxidation reactants were already oxidized must be identical to the numbers that are present in the decrease of the oxidation numbers in the reactants which have been previously reduced.


For an adjustment to occur in the redox reactions, it is necessary to perform a mass balance in order to ensure that the same number of atoms of each of the elements are present in the two parts of the equation . In addition, a balance must be given in the charges in order to achieve that the number of electrons can be transferred in the oxygenation process , and that these are also the same electrons that are gained in the reduction process .


This term refers to the ability of the redox reaction to be able to occur in two different directions, one of them can occur naturally and is known by the name of spontaneous direction and the other can be produced contrary to the natural and in this case it is known as non-spontaneous direction. For the exhibition to be presented, it is necessary that the physical system is made by the transfer of energy between the system under study and the environment that surrounds it.

Applications of redox reactions

Redox reactions can also be used in different types of industrial applications . They turn out to be ideal in the production of work with the aim of producing movement in the large motors that are used in power plants to produce electricity. Also, it is used in the burning of fossil fuels which is used to produce heat and steam in boilers which will later be used as a moving force in engines and turbines.

This type of reaction is also used to produce the combustion process responsible for making the engines of vehicles that use fossil fuels work and also serves to obtain some types of elements in an optimal state of purity .


An example of an experiment to test redox reactions is the sugar with sulfuric acid experiment . Materials needed for this experiment include plain sugar , sulfuric acid, and a beaker or glass . It is very easy to do, however, it can only be done by adults because the resulting products are harmful.

The first step is to place the sugar in the glass, later, the rest of the bottle must be covered with sulfuric acid, then it will only be enough to wait and observe the reaction which occurs when the acid reacts with the sugar by removing all its molecules of water and thus producing the oxidation of carbon atoms , thus dehydrating it . The remaining product of this experiment is swollen carbon and the reaction that occurs is an oxidation reduction reaction.

Examples of redox reactions

Some examples of redox reactions are:

In daily life

  • Heating system used in residential houses.
  • Body processes such as breathing.

In living beings

  • In the breathing of living beings.
  • In photosynthesis.

In basic medium

  • The combustion of the hydrocarbon called octane
  • Decomposition of hydrogen peroxide
  • Shift from copper to silver
  • Iron oxidation
  • Automobile fuels

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