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Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:19 am
by katietietsworth_3c
Hi all, I have never been great at being able to balance equations just by looking at them, does anyone have any tips on shortcuts/methods they use to help them balance equations especially when they get complicated? Also if you know of any youtube chemistry help that would be appreciated, I am a very visual learner and like to use mnemonics if at all possible.

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:03 am
by katie_sutton1B
I have not been able to find any good youtube videos either. I find it easier to balance chemical equations by checking them one at a time from reactant to product and isolating them (I do it in my head but if it's too long I write it down). It's not bad to write it once or twice if its more complicated. I also find it easier if I make a check list of the elements on each side of the equation and quickly jot down how many there are.

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 5:36 pm
by Daniel Lai
Generally, I start by finding the compounds with single atoms in its formula. So, for example, if I see C6H8O6 on one side and I see CO2 on the other, I'll start by putting a 6 in front of the CO2.

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:23 pm
by Venya Vaddi 1L
Something that helps me keep track when I am balancing an equation is to list each atom in the reaction and write how many of it are on the reactant side to its left and how many of it are on the product side to its right. I also generally start with balancing the elements in one compound, and I usually wait until the end to balance oxygen because it is easier.

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:01 pm
by Vikramjeet Gill 1C
Hey,
https://youtu.be/2Juem0lcifE
here is a link that helped me make balancing chemical equations easier for me. Hope it helps!

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:14 pm
by Zubair Ahmed 1L
For me personally, I start by balancing the gases and then make my way to the solids. It generally works and makes things easier for me.

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:30 pm
by Saman Andalib 1H
When I begin to balance a chemical equation, I balance elements that only appear once on both sides of the chemical equation first. When there are two unique elements that appear once on both sides of the chemical equation, begin with the gaseous element (when hydrogen is present, balance it last out of all gaseous elements).

In the hypothetical example aiming to balance C4H10 + O2 ---> H20 + CO2
1.) Balance Carbon atoms on each side, as they only appear once
C4H10 + O2 ---> H20 + 4CO2
2.) Balance Hydrogen atoms (gaseous element, only appears once.)
C4H10 + O2 ---> 5H20 + 4CO2
3.) Balance Oxygen atoms last, as they appear in more than one compoud on a unique side of this chemical equation.
C4H10 + 13/2O2 ---> 5H20 + 4CO2
4.) Make all stoichiometric coefficients whole numbers by multiplying by a factor of 2.
2C4H10 + 13O2 ---> 10H20 + 8CO2

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:11 pm
by Nathan Tran 4K
The way I balance equations is I always scan for an element that appears on the reactant side of the equation and product side of the equation once. In doing so, I make sure that there are no other elements affecting the balancing of the element. After this, I look to see if the element I balanced was part of a compound. For example, if on the reaction side, I balanced the H in H20 by assigning a 2 in front of H20, I would then proceed to look for the O on the product side of the equation. I proceed and just chug the rest out. It is kind of reminiscent to playing soduku if that makes sense and although I myself have not fully mastered the process yet, I feel like it has historically worked for me. Also, don't forget to check to make sure all the elements are equal in the end!

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:26 pm
by Hannah Pham 1D
Try to take it one element at a time. Write out how many of each element there is in the reactants and do the same for the products. Then, add coefficients where necessary. It's easiest taking it step by step.

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:37 pm
by Mona Lee 4L
In general, I try to start with elements that appear in the least number of compounds. Then, I make sure there are no odd numbers of elements if there is an even number on the other side (ie: double H2O if there is an O2 on the other side). Lastly, try to balance single-element compounds (ie: O2) last.

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:53 pm
by Matthew Tran 1H
My chem teacher in high school taught me a very straightforward, efficient way to balance long/complex equations. You essentially assign each reactant/product a variable coefficient (a, b, c, etc.) and form a system of equations with these variables using the the number atoms of an element in each reactant/product. You then assume one of these variables = 1 and solve the system of equations.

Ex. Balancing C6H12O6 + O2 --> CO2 + H2O

a*C6H12O6 + b*O2 --> c*CO2 + d*H2O

Setting up the system of equations by element:
C: 6a = c (six carbon atoms in glucose, one in CO2)
H: 12a = 2d
O: 6a + 2b = 2c + d
If you let a=1, you can solve: c=6, d=6, b=6

This is of course an easier example where you wouldn't necessarily need to use this method, but it is much more useful when you have more reactants/products/elements to balance, such as problem H21 (7th edition). Hopefully this wasn't too confusing!

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:16 am
by Brian Chang 2H
retweet ^

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:27 pm
by Margaret Akey
There is a table method that works quite well, but I cannot remember how it works! Has anyone else heard of this?

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:27 pm
by Margaret Akey
There is a table method that works quite well, but I cannot remember how it works! Has anyone else heard of this?

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:53 pm
by Sophia_Kiessling_2L
Personally I think the easiest way to balance chemical equations is to start with the atoms that occur the least in the reaction and continue to progress from there.

Re: Short cuts/methods for balancing equations

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 11:10 pm
by Emma Randolph 1J
When balancing equations, I see that a lot of people say they start with the element that occurs the least. Does that mean the element with the least number of atoms on the reactant side, product side, or both? Or does it even really matter what order you balance an equation?