Difference Between Ferric Oxide & Ferrous Oxide

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Matthew Bergstresser

Matthew has a Master of Arts degree in Physics Education. He has taught high school chemistry and physics for 14 years.

Ferric oxide and ferrous oxides are both iron oxides and transition metal ionic compounds whose names denote the number of electrons lost by their respective atoms. Learn more about the differences in their nomenclatures, equations, colors, molar masses, and melting points. Updated: 11/30/2021

Name Change

Some cities around the country have names of streets, and others have numbered streets. Streets given names such as ''Oak Street' or ''Washington Pike'' don't give information about their relative location on the grid of a city map. Streets, avenues, and roads with numbers do. This is an analogy for the situation of the names of transition metal ionic compounds. The names ''ferric oxide'' and ''ferrous oxide'' are such compounds. Their names indicate which ion of iron is in the compound just like a numbered road or street tells us exactly where we are in a city grid.

The Latin name for iron is ferrum; therefore, the ferric and ferrous indicate the presence of iron in the compound. The -ic and -ous endings indicate the oxidation states of the iron ions in the compound. Ferric means the iron atom has lost three electrons to form Fe+3, and ferrous means the iron atom has lost two electrons to form Fe+2. Modern nomenclature uses Roman numerals after a transition metal's name to indicate what charge it has. For example, ferric would be Fe(III) indicating Fe+3, and ferrous would be Fe(II) indicating Fe+2. Let's look at how these two iron ions combine with oxygen.

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  • 0:00 Name Change
  • 1:26 Two Different Iron Oxides
  • 2:07 Comparison of Iron Oxides
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Two Different Iron Oxides

Both versions of iron oxide are ionic compounds, which means they combine with negative ions in the correct ratio so that the compound is electrically neutral. Let's look at the equation for the formation of ferric oxide.

2Fe+3 + 3O-2 → Fe2 O3

The formation of ferrous oxide is represented by the equation:

Fe+2 + O-2 → FeO

The difference in the ratios of iron to oxygen in these two compounds make for differences in properties of the compound. Let's see what these differences are.

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