Balancing REDOX in acid and base. Should I still teach it?

March 02, 2022

My short answer is, “yes”. Here’s more.

This has been discussed a lot since 2019, and the general consensus seems to be that it is unlikely that a question would ask students to balance a REDOX equation in acid or base from scratch, but rather that they might only be asked to combine a couple of half-reactions with H+/OH– already present. However, there is absolutely no way on earth that I am going to remove this from my work with students for the following reasons.

1. There’s nothing in 4.9 that absolutely rules out the possibility of an acid/base REDOX situation.

2. It’s closely tied to 4.8, AND umpteen other acid/base situations.

3. Because of 2., any discussion of acid/base in REDOX situations is all, ‘money in the bank’ for other, related acid/base areas.

4. And this is the odd one, since I never, ever bother to look at the Suggested Skills (becasue I think they are a crock). However, if one does look at the Suggested Skill associated with 4.9, it’s 5E that says, “Determine a balanced chemical equation for a given chemical phenomena.

In my head I cannot give up the idea of teaching acid/base REDOX as long as 5E is associated with 4.9 in the CED, simply because it seems reasonable to me that, “a given chemical phenomena” in no way rules out a REDOX reaction in acid or base!

In summary, currently this is too valuable a skill as an overarching concept to ignore, AND I can’r convince myself that any part of the CED has explicitly ruled this skill out.

1 Comment

  1. James Marilley

    Agree 100% Adrian even though at times some of the problem sets seem to be more about dealing with the exception, hydrogen peroxide or a diatomic molecule being both the reducing and oxidizing agent… the attention to detail with this skill is underestimated or undervalued if it is passed over.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *