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Balancing Chemical Equations

A balanced equation

- Has equal numbers of atoms of each element in the

reactants and in the products.

How do you balance an equation?

- You cannot change subscripts
- Ex H2O is water
- H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide
- These are obviously not the same thing

How do you balance an equation?

- The only tool at your disposal in balancing

equations is a coefficient - Whole number
- Written to the left of a formula
- Multiplies the number of atoms of each element

present in the compound

Using coefficients

- Consider NaNO3 (sodium nitrate)
- Formula indicates 1-Na, 1-N, 3-O
- Now consider 4 NaNO3
- Coefficient indicates 4 times as many of

everything - Therefore, 4-Na, 4-N, 12-O

How many atoms are indicated by the formula

- Mg3(PO4)2
- 3-Mg, 2-P, 8-O
- 3 Mg3(PO4)2
- Three times as many of everything
- 9-Mg, 6-P, 24-O

Some pointers in balancing

- Only balance one element at a time
- Use a pencil
- easier to change coefficients as needed
- Leave oxygen for last
- Leave hydrogen for second to last

Some pointers in balancing

- Reduce the coefficients if they can all be

divided by the same number - Ex 2 P4 10 O2 ? 4 P2O5
- Coefficients should be divided by 2 and written
- P4 5 O2 ? 2 P2O5

Examples in reactions

- sulfur oxygen yields sulfur dioxide
- S8 O2 ? SO2 is this balanced?
- S8 8 O2 ? 8 SO2
- How about diphosphorus pentoxide decomposes

into phosphorus and oxygen? - P2O5 ? P4 O2
- 2 P2O5 ? P4 5 O2

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