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5 Simple Yet Marvelous Steps For Balancing Chemical Equations

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The Dread Associated With Balancing Chemical Equations

Proficiency in balancing chemical equations is a salient skill for every aspiring Chemistry student. In fact, the process of balancing chemical equations, singlehandedly supports one of the most important laws, the Law of Conservation of Mass. Being such an important aspect, students should be fully accustomed with it, right? Wrong!

It is quite the converse, actually. Students dread the subject of balancing equations. In fact, you yourself might have put off the subject on numerous occasions, due to the obstacles faced. This, however, is simply procastination, which isn’t helpful at all. What you need, instead, are a few golden steps that can guide you towards mastering any and all chemical equations.

 

The Steps To Mastering Chemical Equations

Balancing chemical equations can be made easy with a few simple set of steps. Following are the aforementioned steps:

  1. Identify each element present in the equation.
  2. Find out the charges of each element on each side of the equation.
  3. Start with single elements, but always leave out oxygen and hydrogen for the end.
  4. Repeat the process until all elements have been balanced.
  5. Finally, check your work to ensure that both the sides of the equation are balanced.

For better understanding, we will explain these steps with the help of the following unbalanced chemical equation:

CH4 + O2        →        CO2 + H2O

Step 1: Identify each element present in the chemical equation

Before you start to balance your equation, you need to identify each of the elements present in the chemical equation. To do so, jot down elements in a particular on each side of the equation. Doing so provides you with enhanced clarity for balancing these elements.

CH4 + O2        →        CO2 + H2O

Reactants:                                                                                                      Products

C                                                                                                                     C

H                                                                                                                     H

O                                                                                                                     O

Step 2: Find out the charges of each element on each side of the equation

Now that you have identified the elements residing within the equation, you need to find the charges that each of them hold. Taking the aforementioned chemical equation, we have:

CH4 + O2        →        CO2 + H2O

Reactants:                                                                                                      Products

C:        1 atom                                                                                                 C:        1 atom

H:        4 atoms                                                                                               H:        2 atoms

O:        2 atoms                                                                                               O:        3 atoms

Step 3: Start with single elements, but always leave out oxygen and hydrogen for the end

Once you’re done with this, you need to start balancing the equation. This particular equation contains the elements of hydrogen and oxygen. However, as aforementioned, you should always leave out oxygen and hydrogen for the end. That leaves you with carbon.

The carbon atoms, however, are already balanced. Therefore, let’s move on to the next unbalanced eleemnt, i.e. hydrogen. Balancing this should be an easy task considering that it exists in the form of a single element on both sides. Here’s how you start to balance it:

CH4 + O2        →        CO2 + 2H2O

Step 4: Repeat the process until all elements have been balanced

Now that we have balanced hydrogen, let’s survey all the elements to find out which of them are still unbalanced.

CH4 + O2        →        CO2 + 2H2O

Reactants:                                                                                                      Products

C:        1 atom                                                                                                 C:        1 atom

H:        4 atoms                                                                                               H:        4 atoms

O:        2 atoms                                                                                               O:        4 atoms

It seems that oxygen is the only element that remains unbalanced. Therefore, you need to repeat the process until all the elements are balanced. Therefore, here’s how you can balance oxygen.

CH4 + 2O2      →        CO2 + 2H2O

Reactants:                                                                                                      Products

C:        1 atom                                                                                                 C:        1 atom

H:        4 atoms                                                                                               H:        4 atoms

O:        4 atoms                                                                                               O:        4 atoms

And there you go, the equation is balanced.

Step 5: Finally, check your work to ensure that both the sides of the equation are balanced

Once you have checked and out and found that the equation is balanced, you can simply present the balanced equation.

CH4 + 2O2      →        CO2 + 2H2O

Conclusion

And there it is. That’s all that you need to do to balance a chemical equation. Seems simple, doesn’t it? And you were worrying about the process for no particular reason. Next time, whenever you are faced with an overwhelming chemical equation, simply apply these steps, and you can counter and solve the unbalanced equation easily.

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