Why is only oxygen helping with burning?

Oxidation - the combustion of metals simply explained

In this text we explain to you what exactly you should understand by the term oxidation of metals and how it works in detail. We take a look at the individual steps using a few examples.

What is Oxidation?

In the following we want to clarify what you can understand by oxidation. Oxidize is a chemical process in which a substance changes. You have probably seen rusting metal before, for example on a car or objects in your garden. Oxidation has taken place at these points. The iron has changed its appearance and let's take a look at what chemically happened there. In doing so, we look at the role of oxygen. This is responsible for the change. We will now explain to you exactly how oxygen is able to change metals.

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Oxidation as oxygen uptake

Metals react with oxygen during the process of oxidation. An example of such oxidation is the incineration of iron wool.

When the iron wool is burned there is a so-called Activation energy necessary. Iron doesn't just start to burn like that. For example, you need a flame to provide the necessary energy for ignition. After ignition, however, the iron wool continues to burn on its own, releasing a certain amount of energy (this is the heat that is created when burning). The amount of energy that is released is greater than the activation energy. Such a reaction is called exothermic.

If it is necessary for a reaction that energy has to be added continuously (e.g. by a flame) to keep it going, this is called a reactionendothermic. In the case of endothermic reactions, it is therefore necessary to maintain the activation energy continuously, as otherwise the chemical process would break off. Now let's look at exactly what happens when iron wool is burned.

While the iron wool is burning, it reacts with the oxygen in the air. This oxygen is bound and iron oxide is formed. During this chemical reaction, heat is released.

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$ Iron + oxygen $ $ \ rightarrow $$ iron oxide $; exothermic

$ Fe + O $$ \ rightarrow $$ FeO $

Further examples

Other examples of oxidation with oxygen are the combustion of materials with carbon. During combustion, a carbon atom binds two oxygen atoms to itself and carbon dioxide is produced. Let's take a look at the reaction equation:

$ Carbon + oxygen $ $ \ rightarrow $$ carbon dioxide $

$ C + O_2 $$ \ rightarrow $$ CO_2 $

Now you know everything there is to know about the oxidation of metals during combustion and you know the most important terms. You can now share your new knowledge with ours Practice exercises test out. We wish you a lot of fun and success!

Test your knowledge!

Why is it that iron oxide weighs more than the iron before it reacts with oxygen?

What is meant by the term activation energy?

How can the term oxidation be defined?

Which description applies to the term "endothermic"?

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