I have recently begun with Inorganic Chemistry and am finding it totally difficult to understand things (I am trying to minimize memorization and approach logically).

One of the things I am having problems with is understanding oxidizing and reducing agents. Given a compound(and a few other necessary conditions in some cases), can I predict whether the compound will behave as a reducing or an oxidizing agent? Well obviously if there is any such rule, there will be exceptions. But is there anything as such to reason out a few statements and take me partly towards the answer?

For example I have begun with Group 1 and the book says at some point that peroxides and superoxides of alkali metals act as strong oxidizing agents, group 1 hydrides are powerful reducing agents etc. Well I find it difficult to understand these statements and my book offers no explanation.


You may or may not be familiar with the concepts of electronegativity and oxidation states, but ultimately here is the rule of thumb you seek. If your compound contains highly electronegative elements not in their most negative oxidation state, expect it to be an oxidizer. If it contains elements with low electronegativity which are not in their most positive oxidation state, expect it to manifest at least some reducing properties.

On top of that, just like you anticipated, there is a whole lot of exceptions and subtleties which together constitute the magnificent field of elementary inorganic chemistry.

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  • $\begingroup$ fortunately I do know about basics such as Electronegativity and Ox. states and redox potential and similar things.It would be great if you had a source or a link somewhere on the internet so that I could read and know more about it. $\endgroup$ – Karan Singh Sep 25 '15 at 4:22
  • $\begingroup$ Well, if you are studying inorganic chemistry now, I guess you'll stumble upon a lot of links, sources, and facts to consider. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Sep 25 '15 at 21:16

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