10.2 The Chemistry of Oxygen

Chemical Concept Demonstrated: Chemistry of oxygen


  • A thin strip of Mg ribbon is ignited over a burner.


    The Mg ribbon ignites and burns with a bright white flame.


    2 Mg (s) + O2 (g) ---> 2 MgO (s)

    Mg (s) + N2 (g) ---> Mg3N2 (s) (The Mg ribbon reacts with both the oxygen and the nitrogen in the air.)

    Oxygen is highly electronegative.  It acts as an oxidizing agent for most substances with which it reacts. The oxygen oxidizes the magnesium ribbon to form the magnesium oxide salt.

    The fact that the magnesium also undergoes oxidation with respect to nitrogen only attests to the magnesium's reactivity, not to any property of oxygen.

    When the salts produced in this demonstration are placed in water, a basic solution is formed (see demonstration 11.2).