Ions are invisible particles, either molecules or atoms, which bear an electric charge. Atoms, for instance, consist of an atomic nucleus that contains neutral neutrons and positively charged protons, as well as orbiting electrons that are negatively charged. When an atom is in a neutral condition, the number of protons (+) and electrons (-) is equal. When the number of protons and electrons is not the same, the particle becomes an ion that is either positively or negatively charged.
Negative Ions and Oxidation
In acids and bases, we saw that protons (hydrogen ions) could be transferred between molecules. Those protons are positively charged subatomic particles. The most familiar negatively charged subatomic particle is the electron. When electrons are transferred between molecules, we call the process oxidation.
We say that something is oxidized when it loses electrons, and something is reduced when it gains electrons. It may seem backwards to think of gaining electrons as being ‘reduced’, but the name is a historical accident, because Benjamin Franklin chose the names for positive and negative charges before the discovery of the electron. Since electrons have negative charges, gaining an electron makes the oxidation number smaller, because we are adding a negative number.
Simply put, negative ions stabilise free radicals that cause oxidation.
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