Difference Between Oxygen & Hydrogen

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Oxygen is a critical necessity of life.
Oxygen is a critical necessity of life. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Do you remember when you were in chemistry class and you learned about all the different elements in the world? Well, oxygen and hydrogen are two vital elements that are imperative to human life and survival. Although there are a lot of similarities between them, they also have distinguishing characteristics that make them different from each other.

Function

Oxygen and hydrogen are both a necessity for all living things. Your brain and other organs need oxygen to function correctly; you need it to breathe, for your metabolism and to remove toxins from your body. Hydrogen, on the other hand, has been used as a lifting gas, such as helium. Hydrogen is a component of water and is also used in the production of ammonia and as an unconventional fuel source.

A breathing apparatus, just one way to get critical oxygen to human lungs, is shown.
A breathing apparatus, just one way to get critical oxygen to human lungs, is shown. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Features

Both oxygen and hydrogen are reactive, colorless gases that are found in the air and are essential for your survival. The primary difference between the two elements is their physical and chemical properties. Oxygen contains more protons in its nucleus, therefore giving it more electrons and a much higher molecular weight than hydrogen.

The Facts

Hydrogen is the most abundant element while oxygen is not far behind. Oxygen's atomic weight is almost 15 times that of hydrogen, which is actually the lightest of the gases. Oxygen and hydrogen are both nonmetallic. Bottom line, You could not live without either oxygen or hydrogen.

It's important to control the amount when you are working with highly flammable hydrogen.
It's important to control the amount when you are working with highly flammable hydrogen. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Warning

There are dangers associated with hydrogen and oxygen. Both gases are very combustive. You should never smoke around an oxygen tank or allow any open flame when such a tank is present, particularly in a confined space. This increases the chances for a fire or explosion. The use of flammable hydrogen was the culprit responsible for what befell the manned blimp Hindenberg that tragically exploded over New Jersey in 1937.

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