FeO vs Fe2O3: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. FeO and Fe2O3 are chemical compounds of iron and oxygen but differ in chemical composition and properties.
  2. FeO, also known as iron(II) oxide or ferrous oxide, consists of one iron (Fe) atom and one oxygen (O) atom. It is a black or dark gray solid at room temperature and is often used in ceramics and as a pigment in black ink and paints.
  3. Fe2O3, also known as iron(III) oxide or ferric oxide, consists of two iron atoms (Fe) and three oxygen atoms (O). It exists in several forms, including a reddish-brown powder known as rust. Fe2O3 is commonly encountered in nature as rust on iron or steel objects and is used in various applications, including as a pigment in red and brown paints.

What is FeO?

FeO, or ferrous oxide, is an Iron(II) oxide chemical compound. It is formed with iron (Fe) and oxygen (O). Here, the iron is in the +2 oxidation state. It means each iron atom has lost two electrons.

This chemical compound is black in color. It is also known to be ferromagnetic. It means it shows magnetic properties and can be magnetized.

Several industries use it as its application can be varied. It can be used to manufacture pigments and is also an essential element for geological and mineralogical studies.

Some chemical reactions will use it as a source of iron. It functions as a reducing agent in some chemical reactions due to the presence of iron(II) ions. The ceramics industry also utilizes its qualities.


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FeO is comprehended to be prone to oxidation. It is low in stability and can oxidize easily to form Fe2O3 whenever it is exposed to oxygen in the surroundings.

What is Fe2O3?

Fe2O3 is another chemical compound. It is the most common form of iron oxide and is widely known as rust. It can be witnessed anywhere in the environment as it results from the corrosion of iron and steel surfaces in the presence of oxygen and moisture.

As it is rust, it is red in color, as we see on the metal surfaces. It may appear useless and problematic, but it also carries value and is used for various reasons. The most common usage is to get the red-brown pigment in paints and dyes.

It works as a polishing agent in various applications and is sometimes used as a chemical reaction catalyst. This major oxide of iron is called hematite as well. Here, iron is in the +3 oxidation state. Therefore, here, each iron atom has lost three electrons.

This chemical compound carries weak magnetic properties. However, strong ferromagnetic values can not be witnessed in it. Several chemical processes use it as a source of iron.

Difference Between FeO and Fe2O3

  1. Another name for FeO is ferrous oxide, while Fe2O3 is ferric oxide.
  2. FeO is black in color, whereas Fe2O3 is red in color.
  3. In FeO, each iron atom has lost two electrons, while Fe2O3 has irons that lost three electrons each.
  4. In FeO, iron is merged with one oxygen atom. At the same time, in the formation of Fe2O3, iron gets united with three oxygen atoms.
  5. FeO is prone to oxidation and can become Fe2O3 when exposed to oxygen. On the other hand, Fe2O3 is much more stable.
  6. Due to its iron(II) ions, it works as a reducing agent in some chemical reactions. But on the contrary, Fe2O3 works as a source of iron in some chemical reactions.
  7. When magnetic properties are considered, FeO can be magnetized, as it is ferromagnetic. On the other hand, Fe2O3 is not a strong ferromagnetic and shows weak magnetic properties.

Comparison Between FeO and Fe2O3

Parameter of ComparisonFeOFe2O3
OxideIt is iron(II) oxide.It is iron(III) oxide
ColorIts color is black.Its color is rusty red.
Magnetic PropertiesIt can be magnetized.It is weakly magnetic.
StabilityComparatively, it is less stable and prone to oxidation.It appears more stable when compared.
Role in chemical reactionsIt functions as a reducing agent in some chemical reactions.It functions as a source of iron in some chemical reactions.
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1525-1314.2000.00269.x
  2. https://pubs.aip.org/aip/jcp/article/154/9/094709/313879
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