Introduction: How to Balance Equations (elements)

Picture of How to Balance Equations (elements)

It's a pretty simple process, it may take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it should come easily!

Step 1: Step 1: Write Down the Different Elements in You Equation

Picture of Step 1: Write Down the Different Elements in You Equation

If I have HCl + Ca >> CaCl2 + H, I have one Hydrogen, one Chlorine, and one Calcium on the Reactants side, and one Calcium, two Chlorine, and one Hydrogen on the Products side. It should be written like this >>

H-1, Cl-1, Ca-1 || H-1, Cl-2, Ca-1.
Reactants Products

This is called counting atoms. It's very important when writing and balancing chemical equations.

Step 2: Step 2: Adding Coefficients

Picture of Step 2: Adding Coefficients

Already, you can see that this >> H-1, Cl-1, Ca-1 || H-1, Cl-2, Ca-1 isn't balanced. You have two Cl on the Product side and only one Cl on the Reactant side. Since elements don't magically appear from nowhere, the formula has to be balanced.

Heres how to do this.
First, you would look at the equation and decide, how do I make these Reactants and Products even?

HCl + Ca >> CaCl2 + H

2HCl + Ca >> CaCl2 + H See, I've added a 2 to the HCl. Now, we would change the list of elements to this:

H- 2, Cl- 2, Ca-1 || H-1, Cl-2, Ca- 1 (mark through the 1 and put a 2 beside it) Hydrogen (H) and Chlorine (Cl) Both change to 2 because we added a coefficient to the front. It's still not equal though. We now have

H- 2, Cl- 2, Ca-1 || H-1, Cl-2, Ca- 1 We need more Hydrogen on the Products side. So, we do this:

2HCl + Ca >> CaCl2 + 2H Now we've added a 2 to the front of Hydrogen. The list of elements changes again.

H- 2, Cl- 2, Ca-1 || H- 2, Cl-2, Ca- 1 (again, mark through the 1 and put a 2 beside it.) The equation is now balanced because there is 2 H, 2 Cl, and 1 Ca on the Reactants side, and 2 H, 2 Cl, and 1 Ca on the Products side.

Step 3: Wrapping Up

Here's what we covered.

Reactants: elements on the left side of the equation

Products: elements on the right side of the equation

Coefficients: numbers that change the amount of elements on the Reactants or Products sides.

Thanks for taking the time to learn this!

Comments

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-10-07

Ah. Balancing equations. I spent so much time doing this in Chem 1301.