What is the oxidizing and reducing agent in the following reaction:   Zn(s) + 2H+(aq) ----> Zn2+(aq) + H2(g)

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bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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The term "redox equation" comes from two concepts, of reduction and oxidation.  It can be explained in simple terms:

Oxidation:  the loss of electrons or an increase in the oxidation state by an atom, molecule, or ion.

Reduction: the gain of electrons or a decrease in oxidation state by an atom, molecule, or ion

In the equation, zinc is losing 2 electrons; it is being oxidized.  The hydrogen is gaining 2 electrons, so it is being reduced.  Now here is where it gets tricky!  The atom being oxidized is the "reducing agent", because it is increasing the oxidation state of the other atom; that would be the zinc (Zn).  The atom being reduced is the "oxidizing agent", because it is causing a decrease in the oxidation state of the other atom; that would be the hydrogen.

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