• Written By Parth
  • Last Modified 11-04-2024

Balancing Chemical Equations


The inclusion of stoichiometric coefficients to the reactants and products is required to balance chemical equations. This is crucial because a chemical equation must follow the laws of conservation of mass and constant proportions, which means that the reactant and product sides of the equation must have the same amount of atoms of each element.

This article discusses two quick and simple ways to balance a chemical equation. The classical balancing approach is the first, and the algebraic balancing method is the second.

How to Balance a Chemical Equation?

The act of balancing an equation is not the same as brain surgery. All you need is a knack for numbers and the ability to follow simple instructions. An examination of the reaction equation is the first step in the procedure. The atoms of each element on either side of the arrow are tallied; if they are not equal, the actions below are taken to balance them out.

Terminology Used In Chemical Reactions

Here are a few terms you should know about before you start balancing chemical equations:

Equation of Chemistry

  • A chemical equation is a symbol for a chemical reaction in which the reactants and products are represented by their chemical formulae.
  • 2H2 + O2 = 2H2O is an example of a chemical equation that depicts the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate water.
  • The part of the chemical equation to the left of the = sign is the reactant side, while the part to the right of the arrow symbol is the product side.

Stoichiometry Coefficient

The number of molecules involved in a process is known as the stoichiometric coefficient or stoichiometric number. When you look at a balanced reaction, you will see that both sides of the equation have the same amount of elements. The number in front of atoms, molecules, or ions is known as the stoichiometric coefficient.

Fractions and whole numbers can both be used as stoichiometric coefficients. The factors essentially assist us in determining the mole ratio between reactants and products.

Step 1: Write down the number of atoms in each element.

Begin by counting and noting the number of atoms of each element on both sides of the reaction, as previously stated. Consider the reaction of nitrogen in the atmosphere with hydrogen. The two react to produce ammonia (NH3), which is known as the ‘Haber-Bosch process.’ This reaction’s imbalanced equation is:

N2 + H2 → NH3 

According to the equation, two nitrogen atoms combine with two hydrogen atoms to generate a single molecule of ammonia. Ammonia, on the other hand, has three hydrogen atoms, whereas the reactant only has two. The reactant side also has one more nitrogen atom than the product side. The equation is unbalanced and violates the law of mass conservation.

Step 2: Begin with the important component.

Always put hydrogen and oxygen atoms last when balancing a chemical equation (as they are often present on both sides). Begin with choosing an element that only appears in one of the reactants and one of the products.

The only element other than hydrogen in our example is nitrogen, therefore let us balance it out. The reactant side has two nitrogen atoms, while the product side has only one. The number of nitrogen atoms in ammonia can be balanced by simply multiplying it by two. The following is the new equation:

N2 + H2 → 2NH3

With two nitrogen atoms on each side, nitrogen is now balanced. Next, let us talk about hydrogen.

Step 3: Balance oxygen and hydrogen atoms.

We balance the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the final stage. According to our table, the number of hydrogen atoms on the product side has increased to 6, while the reactant side still has only two. How do we get from 2 to 6? By a factor of three. So let us get started!

N2 + 3H2 → 2NH3

On each side, we now have 6 hydrogen atoms. As a result, hydrogen is also in equilibrium.

Let us do a final check to make sure that everything is in order. On both sides, the number of nitrogen atoms is the same, as is the amount of hydrogen atoms. As a result, our chemical equation is completely balanced (as all things should be).

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