How do metal oxides compare in

Copper II oxide formula

Students heat copper(II) oxide in a glass tube while passing methane over it. The copper(II) oxide is reduced to copper. If the reactants and products are weighed carefully the formula of the copper oxide can be deduced. This could also be used simply as an example of reduction.

Lesson organisation

This experiment is likely to take up to an hour, perhaps more to analyse the results. Students who have not carried out this type of reaction before may find it helpful to have the techniques demonstrated first. It is not really suitable for a class practical for students under the age of 14, but could be a useful demonstration.

Each pair or group of students will need access to 2 gas taps.

The students will need access to matches or lighters to light their Bunsen burners. Alternatively, light a few around the room and students can light their own using a splint.

Apparatus and chemicals

Per pair or group of students:

  • Eye protection
  • Reaction tube, (hard glass test-tube with small hole near closed end: see note 2)
  • 1-hole bung with glass tube to fit the reduction tube
  • Rubber tubing
  • Retort stand
  • Boss
  • Clamp
  • Bunsen burner
  • Heat resistant mat
  • Spatula
  • Access to:
  • Balance – must be accurate to at least 0.01g

Technical notes

  1. For best results use wire form copper (II) oxide. Alternatively, use analytical grade copper(II) oxide which has been dried by heating in an open dish at 300–400 °C for 10 min and then stored in a dessicator. It is also worth referring to the CLEAPSS® laboratory Handbook Section 13.2.3 for further information about this experiment.

Health & Safety

Wear eye protection.

Procedure

B. Weigh the tube again, with the copper oxide in it (mass 2).

C. Assemble the apparatus as shown in the diagram, but do not place the Bunsen burner underneath yet. Clamp the test tube as near to the bung as possible.

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