The key difference between hydrogen and oxygen is that hydrogen is a very light gas whereas oxygen is a heavy gas.
We are all aware of the importance of oxygen gas to all life forms, especially human beings. It is one gas that supports all life forms. There is another gas, which we call as hydrogen that is equally important for us. There are many differences between hydrogen and oxygen but the greatest benefit to us is seen in the chemistry between these two gases as it results in formation of water that is a necessity for us. Let us compare the two gases on the basis of their properties.
What is Hydrogen?
Hydrogen is the most abundant material on earth, taking up nearly 75% of the mass of all matter. We can classify hydrogen gas as a diatomic gas because it has two hydrogen atoms.
As it is very light, this gas is rare in earth’s atmosphere as it escapes the gravity of earth. Most of the hydrogen on earth is in the form of elemental hydrogen. The vast majority is in the form of hydrocarbons and water
What is Oxygen?
Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the atmosphere, after hydrogen, and helium. It constitutes about 50% of Earth’s mass and makes up almost 90% of world’s oceans. In the atmosphere of earth, oxygen takes up 21% of volume and 23% by weight. Oxygen gas molecule has two atoms of Oxygen. Hence it is a diatomic gas. Moreover, this gaseous form is the most stable form of elemental oxygen.
What are the Similarities Between Hydrogen and Oxygen?
- Both hydrogen and oxygen occurs as gases
- Hydrogen and oxygen are diatomic molecules in nature
- Both are abundant in the earth’s atmosphere
What is the Difference Between Hydrogen and Oxygen?
Oxygen is vital for human beings as we need it to breathe so that our brain cells get the oxygen necessary for their functioning. Our body needs this gas to maintain metabolism and also to get rid of toxins from our bodies. We get hydrogen as a component of water. Hydrogen gas is mostly useful in the manufacture of Ammonia gas and is also important as a source of fuel.
Both hydrogen and oxygen are necessary for our survival (oxygen for breathing and hydrogen in the form of water). They have different chemical and physical properties. While hydrogen is one of the lightest gases, oxygen is relatively heavier (15 times than hydrogen) which is why we can breathe. They are both reactive gases, and their reaction produces water which is essential for our survival.
Summary – Hydrogen vs Oxygen
Hydrogen and oxygen are diatomic gas in nature. Both these gases are abundant in the earth’s atmosphere. The key difference between hydrogen and oxygen is that hydrogen is a very light gas whereas oxygen is a heavy gas.
1. “Oxygen.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 June 2018. Available here
2. “Hydrogen.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine.Available here