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Compounds and mixtures

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Metal and non-metals oxides

Reaction with oxygen

Remember that metals react with oxygen in the air to produce metal oxides, like magnesium oxide.

Non-metals react with oxygen in the air to produce non-metal oxides. Here are two examples for the non-metals carbon and sulphur.

 

Carbon burns in air to form carbon dioxide:

carbon + oxygen → carbon dioxide

 

Sulphur burns in air to form sulphur dioxide:

sulphur + oxygen → sulphur dioxide

 

Non-metal oxides such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are responsible for acid rain. They dissolve in the water in the clouds to form acidic solutions. Acid rain damages rocks and buildings, and harms wildlife.

Differences between metal oxides and non-metal oxides

There are some important differences between the physical and chemical properties of metal oxides and non-metal oxides. The table shows some of these differences.

Metal oxides Non-metal oxides
solids at room temperature usually gases at room temperature
bases – if they dissolve they form alkaline solutions dissolve in water to form acidic solutions

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