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Nonmetal Oxides

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Last updated date: 21st Jul 2024
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What are Nonmetal Oxides?

All the nonmetals form covalent oxides with oxygen that react with water to produce acids or with bases to produce salts. The majority of nonmetal oxides are acidic, forming oxyacids, which contain hydronium ions (H3O+) in aqueous solutions. 


There exist two general statements, which describe the acidic oxide behaviour. The oxides, such as dinitrogen pentoxide (N2O5) and sulphur trioxide (SO3), are called acid anhydrides because the nonmetal exhibits one of its typical oxidation numbers.


Reactions of Nonmetal Oxides

Nonmetal oxides react with water to produce oxyacids, with no change in the nonmetal’s oxidation number. For example:

N2O5 + H2O → 2HNO3


Second, metal oxides that do not have one of the metal's typical oxidation numbers, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and chlorine dioxide (ClO2), react with water as well. The nonmetal, on the other hand, is both oxidised and reduced in these reactions (i.e., its oxidation number is increased and decreased, respectively). A disproportionation reaction occurs when the same element is oxidised and reduced at the same time. N0+ is reduced to N2+ (in NO) and oxidised to N5+ in the next disproportionation reaction (in HNO3).


3NO2 + H2O → 2HNO3 + NO


Oxides of Nitrogen

The oxides are formed by nitrogen (N), which exhibit each of its positive oxidation numbers ranging from +1 to +5. Nitrous oxide (or dinitrogen oxide), N2O, is formed when the ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) is heated. This colorless gas has a nice and mild odor and a sweet taste and is used as a local anesthetic for minor procedures, especially in dentistry. It is also called laughing gas due to its intoxicating effect. And, it is used widely as a propellant in aerosol cans of whipped cream.

Nitric oxide (NO) is created in many ways. The lightning that takes place during thunderstorms brings up the direct union of oxygen and nitrogen in the air to form fewer amounts of nitric oxide, as does heating these two elements together. Nitric oxide can be produced commercially by burning ammonia (NH3), but it can also be made in the lab by reducing dilute nitric acid (HNO3) with, for example, copper (Cu).

3Cu + 8HNO3 → 2NO + 3Cu(NO3)2 + 4H2O


Oxides of Phosphorus


(III) oxide (also known as tetraphosphorus hexoxide), P4O6, and phosphorus (V) oxide (also known as tetraphosphorus decaoxide), P4O10, are two popular oxides. Both these oxides contain a structure based on the tetrahedral structure of the elemental white phosphorus. Phosphorus(III) oxide comes in the form of a white crystalline solid with a garlic-like odor and a poisonous vapor. It oxidizes slowly in the air and flames when heated to 70°C (158°F) by forming P4O10. It is phosphoric acid (H3PO3) acid.

anhydride, produced as P4O6, that dissolves slowly in cold water. Phosphorus(V) oxide is a white flocculent powder made by heating elemental phosphorus in the presence of excess oxygen. It is a poor oxidizing agent and is very stable. The molecule P4O10 is an acid anhydride of H3PO4, an orthophosphoric acid. When this P4O10 is dropped into water, heat is liberated, the acid is formed and makes a hissing sound. Due to its great affinity for water, P4O10 can be used extensively as a drying agent for the gasses and to remove water from several compounds.

P4O10 + 6H2O → 4H3PO4


Oxides of Carbon

Carbon forms two well-known oxides, which are carbon monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide (CO2). In addition, it also forms C3O2 and carbon suboxide.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide can be produced when graphite (a naturally occurring form of elemental carbon) is burned or heated in a limited amount of oxygen. Steam with red-hot coke reaction also produces carbon monoxide, including hydrogen gas (H2). Coke is given as an impure carbon residue resulting from coal burning.

This CO and H2 mixture is called water gas and can be used as an industrial fuel. In the laboratory, carbon monoxide can be prepared by heating the oxalic acid (H2C2O4) or formic acid (HCOOH) with the conc. sulfuric acid (H2SO4). The sulfuric acid removes the water elements (it means H2O) from the oxalic or formic acid and absorbs the produced water because the carbon monoxide burns readily in oxygen to form carbon dioxide,


2CO + O2 → 2CO2


It is also useful as a gaseous fuel and as a metallurgical reducing agent because it reduces several metal oxides to the elemental metal at high temperatures. For example, iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3) and copper (II) oxide (CuO) are both reduced to metal by the carbon monoxide compound.


Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide can be produced when almost any carbon compound or any form of carbon is burned in excess oxygen. Several metal carbonates liberate CO2 when heated. Calcium carbonate (CaCO3), for example, contains calcium oxide (CaO) and carbon dioxide.


CaCO3 + heat → CO2 + CaO


How to Prepare Notes on Non-Metal Oxides?

  • Go through Nonmetal Oxides - Reactions, Oxides of Nitrogen, Carbon, and FAQs on Vedantu.

  • Read from this page and try to understand the explanations provided.

  • Re-read those portions that seem a bit unclear towards the beginning.

  • Write down everything in an organized manner.

  • Keep your sentences brief and to the point.

  • Highlight all the key parts using a coloured pen.

  • Use drawings if possible to retain the concepts.

  • Revise from here before appearing for a test on Non-metal oxides.

How Does Vedantu Prepare Students for a Chemistry Test on Metal Oxides ?

Vedantu has appropriate study material on Metal oxides that students can read from. They can check out Nonmetal Oxides on Vedantu and then understand the topic better. The definition and reactions with the other oxides have been explained here. Studying from this section will help students secure higher marks in their exams as the material present here is relevant and in keeping with the Chemistry syllabus.

FAQs on Nonmetal Oxides

1. How can students learn about the reaction of non-metal oxides online?

All students can read from Nonmetal Oxides that are on Vedantu’ online tutoring portal. This page has all the information that the students may be on the lookout for.  The reaction of non-metal oxides can be understood while one goes through this page as it has multiple examples for them to go through. They must practise from here to perfect their reactions. This page is the ideal guide for them before they look for anything else online.

2. Will questions in the exam come from oxides of nitrogen?

Yes, a lot of questions might come from oxides of nitrogen that are a part of Non-metal oxides. Nitrous oxide is formed when the ammonium nitrate is heated.  The explanation for this and the rest of the reactions have been described in Nonmetal Oxides that are on Vedantu. Reading this page will guide the students in the right manner as they will then know the kind of questions that they might have to prepare for before an exam on the same. This page will help them study well before an exam as it has all the relevant facts mentioned.

3. Where can students find study material on Nonmetal oxides apart from their course textbooks?

Students can look for study material on Nonmetal oxides other than their textbooks if they read from Nonmetal Oxides on Vedantu.

This page has everything that they need to know about nonmetal oxides and is of great help for all Chemistry students. It contains the reactions with the different oxides for the sake of the student’s understanding as well. Going through this will see to it that the students score well in all tests related to the topics.

4. What are the oxides of phosphorus?

Oxides of phosphorus have been dealt with in Nonmetal Oxides. This page has a short note on all the oxides of non-metals. It is an informative page that students need to go through before they attempt an exam on the same. The chemical composition along with the equations have also been explained here. Reading from this page will be sufficient for the students before they write an exam. It has everything that’s a part of the syllabus so that the students do not miss out on any important aspect.

5. What are Nonmetal oxides?

Nonmetal oxides are formed as the non-metals form covalent oxides with oxygen that reacts with water to produce acids or with the bases to produce salts. Students can find the explanations on Vedantu.

Vedantu provides this free of cost to the students so that they can read from it at any point in time without any hesitation. They can download it in PDF format as well so that they can go through the material even when there’s no internet connection available.  All the doubts on non-metal oxides can also be clarified through this page.

6. What are Peroxides?

Peroxides are formed by alkali metals and alkaline earth metals, as previously mentioned. Also, other numerous electropositive metals such as lanthanoids form peroxides. These are the intermediate in character between the ionic peroxides and the covalent peroxides formed by metals such as cadmium (Cd), zinc (Zn), and mercury (Hg).

7. Why are Non-Metal Oxides Acidic?

Water is formed with hydroxinium and OH- ions. If we consider CO2 being dissolved in water, it will combine with H3O+ ion to form H2CO3 and H+ ion. Since it gives up the H+ ion, it is said to be an acid.

8. Give Some Examples of Non-Metal Oxides?

Out of several non-metal oxides, a list of non-metal oxides with formula is given here. Sulfur dioxide (SO); chlorine dioxide (ClO); sulfur trioxide (SO); nitrogen dioxide (NO); nitrous oxide (NO); dihydrogen oxide water (HO); and several others.

9. What are Metal Oxides?

There are many metals as well as non-metal oxides. Let us discuss metal oxides. A metal oxide is given as a compound that is formed by a metal and oxygen reaction. For example, magnesium compounds react with oxygen to produce magnesium oxide.

Oxides of fewer metals such as zinc and lead are amphoteric. It means they react with both acid and base. For example, lead oxide reacts with sodium hydroxide to produce sodium plumbite and water.