What is the oxidation number of Pb3O4?

Expert Answers
jerichorayel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The oxidation number is used in assigning the charged state of elements in any compound, ions and molecules. It can also indicate the state of oxidation of any element in a chemical compound. 

The oxidation state of elements varies depending on the nature of the compound. We can acquire that by inspection and/or algebraic method.

For `Pb_3O_4` , there are series of assumptions:

-the net charge is zero (neutral compound).
-The oxidation number of O is always -2 (unless otherwise stated)
-the oxidation number of Pb is unknown (x).

The algebraic expression can be written as:

`3(x) + 4 (-2) = 0`

  • 3 = number of Pb atoms
  • 4 = number of O atoms
  • -2 = charge of O atom
  • 0 = net charge 

`3x + (-8) = 0`

`3x =8`

`x = 8/3`

Having a fraction answer for the oxidation state is rare but possible. 

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