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Empirical formulas mostly just inform us as to the lowest whole number ratio of the elements in a compound. They also serve as a step towards determining the molecular formula of a compound in a situation where very little about the compound is known or given.
The empirical formula is not used in chemical equations because it only shows the simplest ratio of the atoms in the molecule, not the actual number of atoms present. It can be used, along with the molar mass of the molecule, to find the molecular formula, which does tell you the number of atoms present in the molecule
melinak1 wrote:the molecular formula gives us a more accurate number of how many atoms we are working with, while the empirical formula provides a more vague idea, or ratio, or the atoms that we are working with
that being said, the empirical formula should always be SIMPLIFIED
An empirical formula is the relative number or ratio of atoms of a molecule, rather than exact. In most problems, it is a necessary step to do prior to finding the molecular formula. In short words, having an empirical formula helps to find the molecular formula, provided that there is a molar mass of the molecular formula given.
Because the empirical formula is a ratio, different combinations of elements could essentially have the same empirical formula. Chemistry deals with specific elements to create compounds which is why we often used the molecular formula. The empirical formula holds value in being able to aid us in calculating the molecular formula which separates compounds with the same elements and ratios from each other.
Empirical formulas show the relative number of atoms a molecule has. The ratio can then be used to determine the molecular formula, which is the actual number of atoms in a molecule. However, there are some cases in which the empirical formula is also the molecular formula.
Empirical formulas are useful to quickly determine the ratios of atoms in proportion to one another. Larger hydrocarbons, such as heptane (C6H14), can be reduced to a simpler ratio of C3H7. It's also widely used to represent ionic compounds (for example, CaCl2 or NaCl).
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