What are Oxides and Oxides of Sulphur

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A compound of oxygen and another element reacts to form an oxide or in other words, an oxide is nothing but an ion of oxygen having oxidation state O2- or it should be oxygen anion. They form naturally when the air or water which is composed of oxygen reacts with other elements. It can be either solid or gas but not liquids.


Types of Oxides

Based on the nature and property of compounds the oxides can be classified into three.

They are acidic oxide, basic oxide and amphoteric oxide and neutral oxide. Each of them can be described briefly.

Acidic Oxide

They are also termed as acid anhydrides. Acidic oxides are formed by the reaction of non-metals with oxygen to give an acid.


SO3 + H2O → H2SO4

Basic Oxide

They are known as base Anhydrides, Alkali and alkaline earth metals form basic oxides and give base in water.


K2O + H2O → 2KOH

Amphoteric Oxide

These type of oxides exhibit both the properties of acid and base. When they react with water produces salt and water having basic property while reacts with base forms of salt and water which show acidic properties.


ZnO + 2HCl → ZnCl2 + H2O (Basic)
ZnO + 2NaOH → Na2ZnO2 + H2O (Acidic)

Neutral oxide 

These type of oxides neither shows basic nor acidic properties. Example: Carbon monoxide, nitric oxide etc.

Sulphur Oxides

These oxides are formed when sulphur reacts with oxygen. Oxides of sulphur can be represented generally as SOx. The x can be monoxide, dioxide and trioxide. Some examples for these type of oxides are Sulphur monoxide(SO), Sulphur dioxide (SO2, Sulphur Trioxide (SO3) etc.

Main Types of Oxides of Sulphur

There are mainly two types of oxides which are formed by sulphur. They are Sulphur dioxide and Sulphur trioxide.

Sulphur dioxide

It is a colourless gas formed when sulphur reacts with 2 molecules of oxygen. The source of sulphur dioxide is mainly from the burning of coal which causes air pollution. Sulphur dioxide is also used in the preservation of food items like fruits and vegetables. It is also used in the sugar industry for the refining of cane juices.

Harmful effects

  1. Sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere causes acid rain
  2. When inhaled it causes respiratory problems in human beings
  3. It reduces fertility in both women and men when exposed to a higher concentration of sulphur dioxide

Sulphur trioxide

It is a white crystalline solid which is colourless formed by reacting with three molecules of oxygen. This oxide of sulphur is also called as sulphine acid. It is mainly used in the manufacture of fertilizers and also in the purification of petroleum. This reacts with water to form sulphuric acid and other explosives. It is also used in lead-acid batteries.

Harmful effects

  1. Sulphur trioxide is corrosive to metal and tissues.
  2. It causes skin irritation and eye-burning
  3. The inhalation of this toxic gas causes burns in stomach 


  • Oxides are formed when the metal reacts with oxygen and there are many types of oxides present 
  • Based on the nature and property of compounds the oxides classified into acidic oxide, basic oxide, amphoteric oxide and neutral oxides.
  • Sulphur oxide is generally represented as SOx which can be mono, di or trioxides.
  • Main types of sulphur oxides are sulphur dioxide and sulphur trioxide both are colourless gas. Former causes acid rain whereas later causes skin burns.

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