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AS Chemistry: Redox Reactions and Group 2 Elements

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Emily is a PhD student with a BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics, an MSc in Molecular Medicine, and a passion for science communication.

Oxidation and reduction

Oxidation and reduction

Redox Reactions

A redox reaction is a reaction that involves both oxidation (the loss of electrons) and reduction (the gain of electrons).

In order to identify whether a reaction is redox or not, you can write separate half equations that show how electrons are lost/gained.
For example, take the equation for the reaction of Calcium and Oxygen:

2Ca (g) + O2 (g) -> 2CaO (s),

The two half equations for this reaction are:

Ca -> Ca 2+ + 2e- (this reaction shows oxidation).
O2 + 4e- -> 2O2- (this reaction shows reduction)

Therefore, you can conclude that this reaction is a redox reaction because it involves both reduction and oxidation.

There is another way of identifying a redox reaction (I personally find this method easier), in which you apply oxidation numbers to the equation to work out what has been oxidised and what has been reduced.

Reaction of Calcium and Oxygen

Basically, there are 10 rules that show which elements and their oxidation numbers take priority in a reaction.
So, in order of importance, the 10 rules are as follows:

1) Group 1 elements (all have an oxidation number of +1)

2) Group 2 elements (all have an oxidation number of +2)

3) Group 3 elements (all have an oxidation number of +3)

4) Flourine (with an oxidation number of -1)

5) Hydrogen (with an oxidation number of +1)

6) Oxygen (with an oxidation number of -2)

7) Chlorine (with an oxidation number of -1)

8) Group 7 elements (all have an oxidation number of -1), Group 6 elements (-2), and Group 5 elements (-3).

9) All the other elements, whose oxidation number depends on the oxidation number of the other elements in the equation.

10) When an element is by itself in a reaction and not in a compound, then its oxidation number is 0.

Now, apply this to the example reaction I used earlier between Calcium and Oxygen:

2Ca (g) + O2 (g) -> 2CaO (s)

Ca is by itself in this reaction so its oxidation number is 0.
O2 is by itself so its oxidation number is also 0.
Ca in the product CaO has an oxidation number of +2.
O in the product CaO has an oxidation number of -2.

From this, you can see that Calcium has lost 2 electrons (it has gone from 0 to +2) and Oxygen has gained 2 electrons (it has gone from 0 to -2).

Therefore Oxygen has been reduced and Calcium has been Oxidised, making this reaction a redox reaction.

The Alkali Earth Metals are highlighted in light blue

The Alkali Earth Metals are highlighted in light blue

ElementFirst Ionisation Energy/kJ mol-1













Group 2

  • Also known as the alkaline earth metals, group 2 consists of the elements Beryllium, Magnesium, Calcium, Strontium, and Barium.
  • They all have reasonably high melting and boiling points, low densities, and they all form colourless compounds.
  • Together with group 1 (the alkali metals), they form the s block of the periodic table because their highest energy electrons are all in s sub-shells (a spherical orbital capable of holding 2 electrons). This means that the alkaline earth metals have 2 electrons in their outer shells.


Reactivity increases down group 2, this is due to 3 things:

1) The electron shielding increases as you go down the group.

2) The atomic radii also increases.

3) Nuclear charge increases (because of the increasing number of protons), however, this is overpowered by the nuclear charge and atomic radii.

Basically, the more electron shielding an atom has the less attracted its outermost electrons are to the positive nucleus and thus the electrons are lost easier.

From this, we can deduce that the ionisation energy decreases as we go down the group.

Above is a table to show the ionisation energies of the group 2 elements.

Water and Group 2 Elements



All of the elements in group 2 react vigorously with Oxygen, the product of which is an ionic oxide. The general formula for this reaction is MO (where M is the group 2 element).
For example, Magnesium reacts with Oxygen to form Magnesium Oxide the formula for which is:

2Mg (s) + O2 (g) 2MgO (s)

This is a redox reaction.


All of the group 2 elements form hydroxides when reacted with water. The general formula for these reactions is M(OH)2 (where M is the group 2 element). Hydrogen is given off during these reactions.
For example, Magnesium reacts with water to form Magnesium Hydroxide and Hydrogen gas in the following equation:

Mg (s) + 2H2O(g) -> Mg(OH)2(aq) + H2(g)

This is also a redox reaction.


Peace on August 15, 2020:

Very interested and with this I will try my best to get the best in chemistry.thanks alot

Ina on March 29, 2020:

have a quiz

farni on February 25, 2019:

chemistry is so beautiful and intresting. it helps you understand the basis of life .

despite my ugly grades, its okay not be okay

sometimes it hurts to follow your heart, but it hurts worse when you dont.

join this journey with me today and lets a difference. together we can do anything together we can succeed. come on girls and pals

minyutes away from succeding . hoorayyy

farni on November 13, 2018:

chemistry is the ruth of live

Promise Nnana on November 09, 2018:

very interestin n easy...tnx mor knowledge

Alexander Duke on October 06, 2018:

this so simple........thanks a lot

nrbir on October 05, 2018:


Sagir Ahmed on May 31, 2018:


Jaycah Magane on August 13, 2014:

Thank you ....!I really like this,..!your explanation to redox reaction is great.

Emily (author) on November 25, 2012:

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Anna O'Malley from United States on November 25, 2012:

I really like this! You explain redox reactions very well.