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How do you know when a question requires an ICE table? I know that an ICE table is only used when they don't give you the equilibrium initial concentration. But, will they tell you they're not the concentrations at equilibrium? How will the problem usually be worded for ones that require ICE tables?
You use ICE table when the question asks for the equilibrium composition of the reaction system. In other words, the system given in the question is usually not at an equilibrium so the question is basically asking us to find what is the concentration of each molecules when the system is finally at an equilibrium. ICE table allows us to find the final equilibrium composition.
For problems that give you the molarity of a strong acid or base, you do not need an ICE table because you can assume the acid/base dissociated completely. If you are given only the molarity of a weak acid/base, you will need an ice table because you do not know the concentrations of the other solutions at equilibrium. Problems like these will also usually involve the use of Ka/Kb.
If the question does not state the values are at equilibrium, they are not. ICE tables are needed when the equilibrium values are not provided, but are not necessary if you know the equilibrium amount of one of the reactants or products. This is because you can use the stoichiometric ratios of the balanced reaction to determine the amount of change a reactant or product experiences from their initial amount, and then add or subtract to the initial amounts of reactants or products accordingly.
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