Q:

Why must chemical equations be balanced?

A:

Quick Answer

Balancing a chemical equation is important because it shows the ratio of elements needed for the reaction to proceed properly. This allows scientists and researchers to use mathematical formulas to determine how much of one reactant is needed to produce the product.

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When balancing a chemical equation, the Law of Conservation of Mass is used to determine that the same number of atoms of each element is present on each side of the equation. Atoms are counted by multiplying the subscript times the number in front of the molecule, atom or compound, which is known as the coefficient. The coefficient represents the ratio of the particular reactant or product, meaning how many times it is consumed or produced. In balanced equations, only whole numbers are used as coefficients. The coefficient or subscript is not written out if they equal 1.

Balanced chemical equations also include the state of matter that the reactants and products are found in. These can include gaseous, solid, liquid or aqueous. Aqueous compounds are usually ionic compounds. Ionic compounds have a special form of balanced equation called a net ionic equation that only includes the ions that react, disregarding reactants or products that remain unbonded or unchanged.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is it important to balance chemical equations?

    A:

    It is important to balance chemical equations because there must be an equal number of atoms on both sides of the equation to follow the Law of the Conservation of Mass. This chemical law states that in order for the equation to be correct, "An equal quantity of matter exists both before and after the experiment; the quality and quantity of the elements remain precisely the same."

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  • Q:

    What are the chemical reaction equations for acid rain?

    A:

    Acid rain is formed when nitrogen oxides or sulfur oxides in the atmosphere react with suspended water droplets and produce acids. The chemical reaction equation for the production of acid rain resulting from sulfur oxides is: SO2 + HOH -> H2SO3. The reaction equation for acid rain produced from nitrogen oxides is: 2NO2 + HOH -> HNO2 + HNO3.

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  • Q:

    What is the chemical equation for wine fermentation?

    A:

    The chemical equation for wine fermentation when starting from glucose is C6H12O6 = 2CO2 + 2CH3CH2OH, and when starting from maltose or sucrose, it is C12H22O11 = 4CO2 + 4CH3CH2OH. In both processes, the products are carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol. Yeast cells are used in the fermentation process to extract energy from the sugar.

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  • Q:

    What is the chemical equation for rust?

    A:

    The chemical equation or formula for rust is 4 Fe(OH)3(s). The formula represents the net result of a chemical reaction that occurs between iron, water and oxygen. Rust occurs not only on mostly pure iron but also on alloys that include iron, like steel.

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