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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Derive chemical equations from narrative descriptions of chemical reactions.
  • Write and balance chemical equations in molecular, total ionic, and net ionic formats.

The preceding chapter introduced the use of element symbols to represent individual atoms. When atoms gain or lose electrons to yield ions, or combine with other atoms to form molecules, their symbols are modified or combined to generate chemical formulas that appropriately represent these species. Extending this symbolism to represent both the identities and the relative quantities of substances undergoing a chemical (or physical) change involves writing and balancing a chemical equation    . Consider as an example the reaction between one methane molecule (CH 4 ) and two diatomic oxygen molecules (O 2 ) to produce one carbon dioxide molecule (CO 2 ) and two water molecules (H 2 O). The chemical equation representing this process is provided in the upper half of [link] , with space-filling molecular models shown in the lower half of the figure.

This figure shows a balanced chemical equation followed below by a representation of the equation using space-filling models. The equation reads C H subscript 4 plus 2 O subscript 2 arrow C O subscript 2 plus 2 H subscript 2 O. Under the C H subscript 4, the molecule is shown with a central black sphere, representing a C atom, to which 4 smaller white spheres, representing H atoms, are distributed evenly around. All four H atoms are bonded to the central black C atom. This is followed by a plus sign. Under the 2 O subscript 2, two molecules are shown. The molecules are each composed of two red spheres bonded together. The red spheres represent O atoms. To the right of an arrow and under the C O subscript 2, appears a single molecule with a black central sphere with two red spheres bonded to the left and right. Following a plus sign and under the 2 H subscript 2 O, are two molecules, each with a central red sphere and two smaller white spheres attached to the lower right and lower left sides of the central red sphere. Note that in space filling models of molecules, spheres appear slightly compressed in regions where there is a bond between two atoms.
The reaction between methane and oxygen to yield carbon dioxide and water (shown at bottom) may be represented by a chemical equation using formulas (top).

This example illustrates the fundamental aspects of any chemical equation:

  1. The substances undergoing reaction are called reactants , and their formulas are placed on the left side of the equation.
  2. The substances generated by the reaction are called products , and their formulas are placed on the right sight of the equation.
  3. Plus signs (+) separate individual reactant and product formulas, and an arrow (⟶) separates the reactant and product (left and right) sides of the equation.
  4. The relative numbers of reactant and product species are represented by coefficients (numbers placed immediately to the left of each formula). A coefficient of 1 is typically omitted.

It is common practice to use the smallest possible whole-number coefficients in a chemical equation, as is done in this example. Realize, however, that these coefficients represent the relative numbers of reactants and products, and, therefore, they may be correctly interpreted as ratios. Methane and oxygen react to yield carbon dioxide and water in a 1:2:1:2 ratio. This ratio is satisfied if the numbers of these molecules are, respectively, 1-2-1-2, or 2-4-2-4, or 3-6-3-6, and so on ( [link] ). Likewise, these coefficients may be interpreted with regard to any amount (number) unit, and so this equation may be correctly read in many ways, including:

  • One methane molecule and two oxygen molecules react to yield one carbon dioxide molecule and two water molecules.
  • One dozen methane molecules and two dozen oxygen molecules react to yield one dozen carbon dioxide molecules and two dozen water molecules.
  • One mole of methane molecules and 2 moles of oxygen molecules react to yield 1 mole of carbon dioxide molecules and 2 moles of water molecules.
This image has a left side, labeled, “Mixture before reaction” separated by a vertical dashed line from right side labeled, “Mixture after reaction.” On the left side of the figure, two types of molecules are illustrated with space-filling models. Six of the molecules have only two red spheres bonded together. Three of the molecules have four small white spheres evenly distributed about and bonded to a central, larger black sphere. On the right side of the dashed vertical line, two types of molecules which are different from those on the left side are shown. Six of the molecules have a central red sphere to which smaller white spheres are bonded. The white spheres are not opposite each other on the red atoms, giving the molecule a bent shape or appearance. The second molecule type has a central black sphere to which two red spheres are attached on opposite sides, resulting in a linear shape or appearance. Note that in space filling models of molecules, spheres appear slightly compressed in regions where there is a bond between two atoms. On each side of the dashed line, twelve red, three black, and twelve white spheres are present.
Regardless of the absolute numbers of molecules involved, the ratios between numbers of molecules of each species that react (the reactants) and molecules of each species that form (the products) are the same and are given by the chemical reaction equation.

Questions & Answers

what is atomicity
Simbiat Reply
A 45 ml of ph=1,hcl was reacted with a 55l ml of ph=13, naoh solution . what is the final ph
chamini Reply
what is coordination number
YERUMAKULA Reply
coordination number is the number of atoms or ions immediately surrounding a central atom in a complex or crystal
Chidera
what is isotope
Bukar
who is the father of chemistry
Roland Reply
Antoine Lavoisier. Father of modern chemistry
Yapi
Lavoisier
Simbiat
What is geometric isomerism
Imoh Reply
jo
Lakshmi
pls I don't really know teach me
Joel
geometric isomerism are molecules that are locked into their spatial position with respect to one another due to a double Bond or ring structure
Chidera
Chromatography is a physical method of seperation where by mixtures that are in two phrases are separated
Lexzzy Reply
What is chromatography?
Chukwudi Reply
meaning of electrode
DJKRANKY Reply
is ion exchange and ion chromatography the same process?
Vivian
define boyes law and give the formula
Esther Reply
define chemistry and it's properties
Esther
Boyle's law state that at a constant temperature, the pressure of a fixed mass of gas is inversely proportionally to it's volume. P=k/v P1v1=p2v2
MAUREE
Chemistry is the study of matter and it's properties..... It's deals with the composition that governors d use of matter..... Chemistry is also d study of chemical reaction of a substance and it's matter. Properties of chemistry Atom Elements Compound Molecules
MAUREE
chemistry seems more accurately defined as the measurement and study of the interaction / behavior that occurs between any given person place or thing or unit of measure, ie time and energy correlation
Elaine
its the given mass of gas that is inversely proportional to it pressure
Simbiat
Reactive metals are extracted by _______?
Joseph Reply
electrolytic reduction
Amisu
what is ionxide
Wisdom Reply
What is isometrics
Kamaluddeen Reply
Molar mass of aluminum
Victor Reply
why an equation should balanced?
Kwanele Reply
in order to obey the law of conservation of mass
Ibrahim
why does the atomic radius increase across the period
Timothy Reply
Practice Key Terms 9

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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