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Silicon Dioxide.pngIron(III) oxide.jpg

Oxides are chemical compounds that contain oxygen and one other chemical element. They can be found all throughout the world and in many places in nature. Most metals form oxides. Their uses can be found throughout various amounts of places. They can be used from medicinal purposes to helping in the power of motor vehicles. Many of the elements, such as, arsenic, carbon, manganese, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur, can bond with oxygen and produce more than one oxide. Inert gases and most halogens and inactive metals do not form oxides or form directly with oxygen. Oxides are named usually after how many oxygens are present in the molecule. To name them, Greek prefixes are used such as monoxide (or simply oxide), dioxide, trioxide.[1]


Oxides are binary compounds that contain oxygen with another element. Compounds are termed oxides when they are just one element with the oxygen. Their acid-base characteristics can separate them into four main groups: acidic, basic, amphoteric, or neutral. An acidic oxide is an oxide that combines with water to produce an acid.[2] Acidic oxides are produced by nonmetals in covalent bonds(bond between two nonmetals).[3] Basic oxides are known as oxides that give a base in water.[2] They are formed by metals in ionic bonds (bond between a nonmetal and a metal). A substance with the ability to react as either an acidic or basic oxide is an amphoteric solution. Depending on if the elements are giving or taking electrons determines its group to fit into the amphoteric solution. The compounds acidity is determined by its oxidation number. The last group is neutral oxides. Neutral oxides can be neither acidic nor basic, unlike amphoteric. They react with neither acids nor bases. For example Carbon and Nitrogen can combine to form both neutral and acidic compounds like:CO, NO, and N2O.[3]

At room temperature, acidic oxides are often gases. They can react with water to produce acids and reacts with bases and alkalis to produce salts. Oppositely, at room temperature, basic oxides will be solids and most are insoluble in water. Amphoteric oxides have the ability to react with acids and alkalis to produce salts.[4]

Synthesis and Occurrences

Most of the time when scientists come in contact with iron (Fe) oxides is when they discuss and observe the image of the soil and its colors. Soils can vary colors from red, brown, and yellow because of their solid iron oxides.[5] Another pretty well known oxide is nitrous oxide. It is a major greenhouse gas and is emitted in soil and the ocean by bacteria. Nitrous oxide worsens the extra UV light that strikes the earth's atmosphere by attacking the ozone layer in the stratosphere. The main source of its human production is agriculture.[6]

There is an inorganic compound in the Earth's crust that occurs as a mineral and is known as zinc oxide. Another name for it is also zincite and its chemical formula is ZnO . This powdery white substance is insoluble in water and alcohol, but is soluble in hydrochloric acid (HCl) and most other acids. It can be synthesized artificially to create things commercially around the world. It can be used as an additive in the manufacturing of rubber and even the vulcanization of rubber[7], which can help to harden it in the presence of heat and pressure while combining it with sulfur or other substances to give the rubber strength, resistance, and elasticity.[8]


Memorabilia Tin Can of Adhesive Plaster made of Zinc Oxide

Oxides help as additives in many things around the world. Zinc oxide has been used for medicinal purposes dating back for years. Its use has been recorded in the ancient Indian medical text, the 'Charaka Samhita'. But medicine is not the only thing zinc oxide is good for. It can be found in many industrial and cosmetic items too. It is used for concrete manufacturing, it's a component in cigarette filters. It can be a common ingredient in ceramic glazes and can help in the manufacturing of heat-resistant glasses and cookware. It's antibacterial properties can be used for treating skin conditions such as burns, irritation, and cuts. It and iron oxide are both used in the making of calamine lotion. Zinc oxide has been approved by the FDA to be used in sunscreen and lotions because of its ability to absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun.[7]

Nitrous oxide has a variety of uses in the world. It can be used as an inhalant to cause dizzy and distorted sounds and hallucinations. It is used often in medicine as an anesthetic. Nitrous oxide is found as a food additive working as an aerosol spray propellant. It can be found in whipped cream cans, cooking sprays and other similar snack foods. In rocket motors nitrous oxide is used as an oxidizer (an oxidant, especially a substance that combines with the fuel in a rocket engine[9]) It is injected into the intake manifold to increase power in race cars during races. In neuropharmacology, medical grade tanks of nitrous oxide are used in dentistry. Being exposed to this oxide can cause short-term decreases in mental performance, audiovisual ability, and manual dexterity.[6]

Oxidation State and Examples

Bismuthinite & molybdenite in pegmatitic granite from the Precambrian of Quebec, Canada. Glassy gray at lower right = quartz (SiO2 - silicon dioxide)

Oxidation states sort out oxides into different groups. There are ten main groups of oxides. These include: mixed oxidation states, +1 oxidation states, +2 oxidation states, +3 oxidation states, +4 oxidation states, +5 oxidation states, +6 oxidation states, +7 oxidation states, +8 oxidation states, and lastly the related oxides.[10] The oxidation state, or oxidation number, indicates the degree of oxidation (loss of electrons) in a chemical compound in an atom. Oxidation numbers are typically represented as integers (whole numbers) that can either be positive or negative. Many elements will have more than one oxidation number to help when bonding with other elements.[11]

There are many oxides in the world. At least 100+ that can be found. Some examples include: Hydrogen Oxide or water whose formula is H2O which is required for all carbon-based life. There is N2O, or nitrous oxide, which can be found in medicine, drugs, rocketry items, propellants, etc. Also it can be found in acid rain which can be very harmful to health. Silicon dioxide, SiO2, is found in sand and quartz. CO2, or carbon dioxide, is a component of the earth's atmosphere and is used in photosynthesis to make sugar from plants to makes as their food. It is a product of respiration and chemical reactions such as chemical decomposition and combustion of carbonates.[10]


Doctors Explain Nitric Oxide and it's effects on how it can help the human body.


  1. Oxide Web. Accessed January 13, 2016. Unknown Author.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shrestha, Binod. Oxides Chemwiki. Web. Accessed December 14, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dunk, Vicki. Acidic and basic oxides SlideShare. Web. Published on February 15, 2013.
  4. Oxides SlideShare. Web. Published on March 29, 2009. Unknown Author.
  5. Schwertmann, U. Occurrence and Formation of Iron Oxides in Various Pedoenvironments Springer Link. Web. Accessed January 2, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 About Nitrous Oxide] Nitrous Oxide Gas Plants. Web. Accessed January 3, 2016. Unknown Author.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bora, Chandramita. Zinc Oxide Uses Buzzle. Web. Updated August 14, 2013.
  8. Houghton Mifflin Company. vulcanize The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. Web. Accessed January 2, 2016.
  9. Oxidizer The Free Dictionary. Web. Accessed January 13, 2016. Unknown Author.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Oxide Wikipedia. Web. Modified January 4, 2016. Unknown Author.
  11. Oxidation State Wikipedia. Web. Modified January 8, 2016. Unknown Author.