What is oxidation of metal?

Oxidation means the loss of electrons in metal atoms. The oxidation of a metal occurs when the metal loses one or more electrons, so that the atoms of the metal go from the neutral state and become a positively charge ion. This commonly results in the formation of a metal oxide (in the case of iron, that is known as rust).

It occurs in the presence of oxygen. For example,

  • Iron> (water +oxygen)= iron oxide
  • mercury>(heat above 350 °C + oxygen)= Mercury oxide
  • sodium>(water, even slight vapor in air+ oxygen) = sodium oxide.

Metals can also be oxidized when they are dissolved, for instance dissolving zinc metal in a solution of acid leads to Zn2+ ions in solution and the formation of hydrogen gas.

See the Related links for more information about oxidation process.