Any of a class of chemical reactions in which the number of electrons associated with an atom or group of atoms is increased. The electrons taken up by the substance reduced are supplied by another substance, often hydrogen (H2), which is thereby oxidized. See also oxidation-reduction.
Learn more about reduction with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Any chemical reaction in which electrons are transferred. Addition of hydrogen or electrons is reduction, and removal of hydrogen or electrons is oxidation (originally applied to combination with oxygen but now including transfer of hydrogen or electrons). The processes always occur simultaneously: one substance is oxidized by the other, which it reduces. The conditions of the substances before and after are called oxidation states, to which numbers are given and with which calculations can be made. (Valence is a similar but not identical concept.) The chemical equation that describes the electron transfer can be written as two separate half reactions that can in theory be carried out in separate compartments of an electrolytic cell (see electrolysis), with electrons flowing through a wire connecting the two. Strong oxidizing agents include fluorine, ozone, and oxygen itself; strong reducing agents include alkali metals such as sodium and lithium.
Learn more about oxidation-reduction with a free trial on Britannica.com.