Chemistry of Cuprous Oxide

Cuprous oxide Copper(I) oxide or cuprous oxide is the inorganic compound with the formula Cu2O. It is one of the principal oxides of copper.


  1. It is prepared by heating black oxide with copper filling.
    $$\ce{CuO + Cu->Cu2O}$$
  2. It is also prepared by heating copper in air at 1100oC.
    $$\ce{4Cu + O2->[{1100^{\circ}C}]2Cu2O}$$

Physical properties:

  • It is a red colored compound.
  •  It is insoluble in water but get dissolved in ammonia solution.

Chemical properties:

  1. Action with oxygen: Cuprous oxide when heated with oxygen gives copper oxide.
    $$\ce{Cu2O + O2->[\Delta]4CuO}$$
  2. Action with hydrogen: On passing hydrogen gas, cuprous oxide gets reduced to copper metal.
    $$\ce{Cu2O + H2->2Cu + H2O}$$
  3. Action with Hydrochloric acid: Cuprous oxide when reacted with hydrochloric acid gives Cu2Cl2 and water. $$\ce{Cu2O + conc. 2HCl->Cu2Cl2 + H2O}$$
  4. Action with sulphuric acid: Cuprous oxide upon reacting with sulphuric acid gives copper sulphate, carbon monoxide and water. $$\ce{Cu2O + dil. H2SO4->CuSO4 + CO + H2O}$$

Uses of cuprous oxide:

  •  It is used as protective paint to avoid rusting.
  • It is used to make red glass.
  •  It is used to obtain cuprous oxide.

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