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Cady Bright 
Chemistry 11

Synthesis of an Oxide of Copper 

Pre-Lab Questions 
1. What will happen to the mass of the solid as copper reacts with oxygen to form either one of the copper oxides? 
Explain your answer. 
When copper reacts with oxygen to form one of the two copper oxides, the mass of the solid will 
increase because particles are being added to the substance. 
2. Draw a particulate reaction showing how copper, Cu​(s)​, and oxygen gas, O​2(g)​, can react to form Cu​2​O​(s)​. After 
drawing the particulate representation, write a symbolic representation (chemical equation) of the reaction and 
include states of matter for all reactants and products.   

3. Copper (II) oxide, CuO, cannot be formed directly, but is formed from the further oxidation of copper (I) oxide, 
Cu​2​O​(s)​. Draw a particulate reaction showing how copper (I) oxide, Cu​2​O​(s)​, and oxygen gas, O​2(g)​, can react to 
form copper (II) oxide, CuO​(s)​. After drawing the particulate representation, write a symbolic representation 
(chemical equation) of the reaction.  

4. Research copper (II) oxide, CuO, and copper (I) oxide, Cu​2​O, to determine what each of these compounds looks 
like, what potential hazards they pose and what precautions and equipment need to be used to safely work with 
Copper (II) oxide, also known as cupric oxide or CuO, usually takes the form of a black powder. It can 
be dangerous ingested, and can cause serious eye damage or irritation. Copper (I) oxide, also known as 
cuprous oxide or Cu​2​O, usually takes the form of red powder. It can be harmful if ingested or inhaled, such as if 
fumes are created when the substance is heated. To handle these materials, one should wear safety goggles 
(as is standard lab procedure) as well as gloves.  
Table 1: Masses of Materials 
Material  Mass (g) 
Watch Glass  150.4 
Copper  1 
Total  151.32 
Table 2: Qualitative Observations vs Time 
Time (min)  Observation 

5:00  It is changing colour from red to rainbow grey 

6:30  It is now totally grey 

7:25  It is more solid and fused together than the initial powder 

8:15  It is hard to break apart and seems to have melted together 

Table 3: Time vs Total Mass and Mass of Copper Oxide 
Time after heat 
(min)  Total Mass (g)  Mass of Copper Oxide (g)  Mass of Oxygen (g)  Percentage Oxygen 
1:00  151.41  1.01     
3:00  151.42  1.02     
Record all of the necessary measurements described above in a neat and ordered table or list. Ensure all mass 
values are measured to the nearest hundredth and include the appropriate units. For any calculated values, 
show all your calculations, rounding your answers to the nearest hundredth and labeling units clearly.  
1. Determine the mass of one mole of each of the two forms of copper oxide. You will need to use your periodic table 
to do this.  
a. Molar mass of Cu = 63.546g 
b. Molar mass of O = 15.994g 
c. Molar mass of Cu​2​O = 63.546 + 63.546 + 15.994 = 143.086g 
d. Molar mass of CuO = 63.546 + 15.994 = 79.54g 
2. Determine the percent of oxygen in each of the two forms of copper oxide by mass. This is called the percent 
a. Percent mass of oxygen in Cu​2​O = 15.994g / 143.086g = 11.178% 
b. Percent mass of oxygen of CuO = 15.994g / 79.540g = 20.108% 
3. What is the experimental percent of oxygen in your product by mass? Show your work! 
1.02g (mass af ter being heated) − .92g (mass bef ore being heated) = 0.1g (oxygen mass added)  
0.1/1.02 = 0.098  
0.098 * 100 = 9.8%
4. Based on your percent oxygen by mass, which oxide most likely was formed? Think carefully about this question. 
Based only on the fact that the experimental percent of oxygen in the product by mass was 9.8%, it is 
most likely that Cu​2​O was created, because 9.8% is much closer to the 11.178% of the mass that oxygen 
accounts for in Cu​2​O than to the 20.108% of the mass that oxygen accounts for in CuO. 
5. Do your qualitative observations support the above claim?  
Our qualitative observations do not support this claim. As it oxidised, the copper turned a very dark 
grey colour from the red it was originally. It is likely that the red powder had already slightly oxidised into Cu​2​O 
which is red in colour, which allowed the substance to oxidise further into CuO when heated.  
6. Assume that you are correct in your quantitative determination from question 4. Using the percent oxygen by 
mass that you measured as your experimental value and the percent oxygen by mass of the actual oxide as your 
theoretical value calculate the percent error using the following formula. 
|(9.8 − 11.178)/11.178| * 100 = 12.33%  
7. How would the following scenarios affect the accuracy of your results and what type of copper oxide you think 
you formed? For each scenario state which direction the error would shift the results, whether the errors would 
be large or small and how it would affect your determination of which copper oxide was formed. 
a. Spilling some copper oxide before making the final mass measurement. 
If one was exceedingly lucky, spilling some copper oxide before making the final mass measurement 
would only decrease the mass slightly, and not give one a negative value when the difference in mass before 
and after the reaction occurs is taken. However, the error would likely be very large because there was such a 
small amount of copper to being with. The former, decreasing the mass slightly situation would lead one to 
believe there was less oxygen added to the mass than there actually was before the spill, and therefore lead 
them to believe that they created Cu​2​O as opposed to CuO because Cu​2​O has a lower oxygen percentage. The 
latter situation would lead to the individual having to re-do the lab because there is no such thing as a negative 
oxygen percentage.  
b. Not heating the sample long enough or hot enough to cause a complete reaction 
The failure to heat the copper long enough or at a high enough temperature would cause less oxygen 
to be added to the substance. While this error would be less severe than spilling some of the copper oxide, it 
would still significantly affect the data collected because not as many molecules would have been created. The 
difference in before and after values would be smaller, and would similarly lead to one believing that they 
created Cu​2​O, because it has a lower oxygen percentage than CuO. 
c. Not zeroing the scale 
Not zeroing the scale after another group had gone would skew the results in all kinds of wacky ways 
that are quite unpredictable. The error could be large or small, and show the mass as larger or smaller than it 
actually is. If the scale was zeroed to a smaller value than the appropriate one, it would show the mass to be 
greater, and lead one to believe that they had created CuO. If the scale was zeroed to a larger value that the 
appropriate on, it would show the mass to be smaller, and either lead to a re-do of the lab in the case of a 
negative difference, or to one believing that they had created Cu​2​O. Of course, the degree of error depends on 
the magnitude of how far away the zeroed scale is from the actual value. 
8. What measurement uncertainties or experimental errors could account for the amount and direction YOUR 
measured value differs from the expected value?  
A factor that contributed to some experimental error is that when we placed the copper in the watch 
glass, we didn’t spread it out as evenly as we should have for it all to be equally heated. This resulted in us 
trying to spread it out once it was already fairly heated, at which point we were unable to effectively move it 
around because it had formed a hard plate of copper oxide in the centre of the watch glass. This likely made 
less copper react with the oxygen to form copper oxide, lessening the actual amount of oxygen in the 
Another point of uncertainty worth mentioning is the discrepancy between the singular and total 
mass of the watch glass, starting copper, and them together. As seen in Table 1, the mass of the watch glass is 
150.4g, and the mass of the copper was 1g, so logically together they should weigh 151.4g, but instead they are 
151.32g. We are still unsure of how this happened and in what ways it would affect the experiment.