Tips for Balancing Chemical Equations  [ENDORSED]

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Ashley Tran 2I
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Tips for Balancing Chemical Equations

Postby Ashley Tran 2I » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:15 am

What are some helpful approaches for balancing chemical reactions? I usually do a guess and check type of method to match the numbers on both sides of the chemical equation, but this can be difficult with some problems. Thanks!
Last edited by Ashley Tran 2I on Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ALegala_2I
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions  [ENDORSED]

Postby ALegala_2I » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:49 am

I would first write down the number of atoms of each element that is present for the reactant side and the product side. I would then begin to balance my equation and typically leave hydrogen and oxygen for the end. As I balance, I would readjust the initial numbers that were written at the beginning. When the numbers from the beginning are equal for both the reactants and products, you have successfully balanced the equation.

Ally Huang- 1F
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby Ally Huang- 1F » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:59 am

I usually start with balancing the element that occurs the least throughout the reaction. Once you balance that element, the other elements tend to get easier to balance.

Jamie Lee 1F
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby Jamie Lee 1F » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:05 pm

I find it helpful to first balance atoms that are found in only one reactant or one product first, and save hydrogen and oxygen atoms for last since they are usually find spread out throughout the equation.

For example: Fe2O3 + C ---> Fe + CO2

-First, I would balance the iron atoms first by placing the coefficient 2 before the product Fe.
-Then, I would look to see that carbon is balanced, and since it is, I would move onto oxygen. Seeing that I want 6 oxygen atoms on each side of the equation, I would multiply the reactant containing oxygen by 2, and the product by 3.
-Next, I would go back to the product of iron and replace the coefficient of 2 with a 4 to again, balance out the iron.
-Lastly, I would add the coefficient 3 before the reactant carbon to balance them out on each side.

I sometimes will also use guess and check, but it usually works out in a pretty organized fashion if I save hydrogen and oxygen to balance after I've balanced the other atoms present first.

Sanjana Munagala_1j
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby Sanjana Munagala_1j » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:06 pm

Similar to a previous post about writing down all the atoms you have on both sides of the equation, a more visual guide is to make a three column chart. The middle column would be the individual elements present in the equation, the right side would include the number of atoms of the element on the reactants side, and the left side would include the number of atoms of the elements on the products side. As you add stoichiometric coefficients to the equation, keep crossing out the previous number of atoms and replace it with the new number of atoms to whichever side is pertinent. The equation will be balanced when all the numbers on the right side align with the left side.

I hope that wasn't too confusing!

NicoJones_1B
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby NicoJones_1B » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:35 pm

I like to start with the element that has the smallest amount of coefficients on the reaction side because it is easier for me to visualize what I need to add to ether side of the reaction to balance the equation. Then I like to start from the top of the equation on the reaction side, which depends where you first started balancing your equation.

Norman Dis4C
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby Norman Dis4C » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:02 pm

Start with the element that appears the least number of times on both sides. If more than one compound from the same side of the equation have the elements, it would be harder to balance because there will be two coefficient.

Zoya Mulji 1K
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby Zoya Mulji 1K » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:13 pm

If the reactants include a hydrocarbon (ex. C4H10), I usually go ahead and start by doubling the hydrocarbon and then balancing all other pieces according to this. It helps to avoid getting fractions and having to double all of the stoichiometric coefficients later on.

AprilPaz
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby AprilPaz » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:53 pm

I begin by balancing the element that shows up the least then I move on to the next. The posts above sum up the process pretty well though!

VPatankar_2L
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby VPatankar_2L » Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:46 pm

I like to write down the number of moles of each element on both sides of the equation. Then I try to find a common factor for each set of elements. For example, I would count the number of moles of oxygen in the reactants and in the products and find a multiple they have in common.

Tiffany Chao 2H
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby Tiffany Chao 2H » Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:19 pm

I use a method that can be repetitive and take a little longer but it's easier for me to keep track of what I have and haven't balanced. I usually start with the reactant that appears the least then go from there. Afterward, I will write down the next element I balance as a new step and continue that until the equation is completely balanced. It's a little tiring but it helps me keep focus on what I need to do next or see if I made any mistakes.

Katherine Brenner 3H
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Reactions

Postby Katherine Brenner 3H » Tue Oct 01, 2019 6:08 pm

I always balance the element that comes up the least first. I have noticed that writing the amount of each element below it while I am balencing can be very helpful.

Alexa Mugol 3I
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Equations

Postby Alexa Mugol 3I » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:08 pm

One thing I've picked up on is to treat polyatomic ions like their own elements when balancing an equation where polyatomic ions are present. For example, if there's one nitrate on the reactant side, and two nitrates on the product side, you can balance the equation by adding the coefficient 2 to the reactant with nitrate.
I actually found some problems in the textbook that help with this: H.9 and H.10.
Hope this helps!

Ian Morris 3C
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Equations

Postby Ian Morris 3C » Wed Oct 02, 2019 12:53 am

I often use a guess and check method as well, however, I have recently found it easier to start off by finding the molecule with the least amount of atoms on each side, then go from there.

JChen_2I
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Re: Tips for Balancing Chemical Equations

Postby JChen_2I » Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:41 pm

I usually start with balancing the element that occurs the least and go from there. I like keeping a list of the number of atoms for each element on both sides (reactants and products) and updating the number as I balance and add coefficients. It helps you remember which elements are and aren't yet balanced.


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