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- 2 Alternative conceptions in chemistry teaching
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Many students find it difficult to write word equations, which require an appreciation of the nature of chemical change
These materials provide probes for exploring whether students can complete word equations, and a set of practice exercises.
Completing word equations
Word equations are used to describe chemical reactions. Look at the word equations below. In each case, complete the word equation by adding the name of the missing substance, and explain your answers.
- Nitric acid + potassium hydroxide →___________________ + water
- Zinc + _______________________ →zinc nitrate + copper
- ___________________+ zinc carbonate →zinc sulfate + water + carbon dioxide
- Calcium + chlorine →____________________
- magnesium + hydrochloric acid →______________________ + hydrogen
Teachers will have their own ideas about what is an acceptable explanation for students’ completions, depending upon the age of the students and the depth to which ideas about reactions have been studied. Suggested explanations are provided
- In this type of reaction a salt is formed from an acid and an alkali.
- The reactants include elements which must also be present in the products.
- As the reacting alkali is potassium hydroxide, then the product will be a potassium salt. As the reacting acid is nitric acid, then the salt produced will be a nitrate.
- In this type of reaction a more reactive metal displaces a less reactive metal from its salt.
- As the displaced metal is copper, then the reacting salt must have been a copper salt. As the product was a nitrate, then the reacting salt will also be a nitrate.
- In this type of reaction an acid reacts with a carbonate to give a salt, water and carbon dioxide.
- As the product is a sulfate then the reacting acid must be sulfuric acid.
- In this type of reaction a binary compound is prepared from two elements.
- In this type of reaction an acid reacts with a metal to produce a salt and hydrogen.
- As the reacting acid is hydrochloric acid, then the salt produced will be a chloride. As the reacting metal is magnesium, then the product must be a magnesium salt.
This resource can be used as part of an entire lesson plan for 14–16 year olds on writing word equations .
Word equations information
Word equations are a shorthand used to describe chemical reactions.
Although there are many millions of possible chemical reactions you are not expected to know about them all. It is useful to remember that many reactions are of similar types.
Metal and acid
One type of reaction is that between a metal and an acid.
When a metal reacts with an acid the reaction produces a salt, and hydrogen gas is released. The salt produced depends upon the metal and the acid.
If magnesium reacts with hydrochloric acid, then the salt produced is magnesium chloride.
Metal + acid → salt + hydrogen
Metal carbonate + acid
Metal carbonates also react with acid, to give a salt. When a carbonate reacts with acid the gas carbon dioxide is given off.
The salt produced depends upon which acid, and which metal carbonate react.
If zinc carbonate reacts with sulfuric acid, then the salt produced is zinc sulfate.
Metal carbonate + acid →salt + carbon dioxide + water
Acid + alkali
When an alkali and an acid react the product is a salt solution.
The particular salt produced depends upon which acid and which alkali reacted.
When nitric acid reacts with potassium hydroxide the salt produced is potassium nitrate.
Acid + alkali → salt + water
Metal + salt solution
When a reactive metal is placed in the solution of a salt of a less reactive metal, a ‘displacement’ reaction occurs.
The more reactive metal is said to displace the less reactive metal from solution.
For example zinc is added to copper nitrate solution the copper is displaced and the solution will contain zinc nitrate.
Element + element
When two elements react together to form a compound the compound is given a name to show which elements reacted.
So if calcium reacts with chlorine the compound is called calcium chloride.
These examples show you the patterns that are found in five important types of reaction. If you look for patterns you should find it easier to work out how to complete word equations.
In this worksheet you will find some examples to help you practice thinking about word equations.
The information above is an extract of the chapter on word equations. For the full version of this chapter, see downloads below.
Buy Chemical misconceptions II book
These resources have been taken from the book, Chemical Misconceptions : Prevention, diagnosis and care: Theoretical background, Volume 2, by Keith Taber.
More from Keith S Taber
Chemical misconceptions II: Chemical comparisons
Chemical misconceptions I: Concepts in chemistry
Chemical misconceptions II: Scaffolding explanations
Alternative conceptions in chemistry teaching
Concepts in chemistry
The structure of chemical knowledge
Overcoming learning impediments
Scaffolding learning in chemistry
Constructing chemical conceptions
Elements, compounds and mixtures
Mass and dissolving
Changes in chemistry
Definitions in chemistry
Types of chemical reaction
Revising the periodic table
Predicting the melting temperature of carbon
Iron - a metal
Spot the bonding
An analogy for the atom
Stability and reactivity
Learning impediment diary
- 11-14 years
- 14-16 years
- Reactions and synthesis
- Equations, formulas and nomenclature
- Write word equations for the reactions in this specification.
- 0.2 Write word equations
- 3.11 Explain the general reactions of aqueous solutions of acids with: metals, metal oxides, metal hydroxides, metal carbonates to produce salts
- C6.1.1 recall that acids react with some metals and with carbonates and write equations predicting products from given reactants
- C3.3f recall that carbonates and some metals react with acids and write balanced equations predicting products from given reactants
- (c) the reactions of dilute acids with metals and how these relate to the metals' position in the reactivity series
- (d) the neutralisation of dilute acids with bases (including alkalis) and carbonates
- (m) how to represent chemical reactions using word equations
- 1.5.5 construct word equations to describe the range of reactions covered in this specification; and
- Mandatory experiment 1.2 - Redox reactions of group VII elements - halogens as oxidising agents (reactions with bromides, iodides, Fe²⁺ and sulfites). Displacement reactions of metals (Zn with Cu²⁺, Mg with Cu²⁺).
- Compounds. Simple chemical formulas.
- Bonding and valency in terms of the attainment of a stable electronic structure. Octet rule and its limitations.
- Using the octet rule to predict the formulas of simple compounds - binary compounds of the first 36 elements (excluding d-block elements) and the hydroxides, carbonates, nitrates, hydrocarbonates, sulfites and sulfates of these elements (where such…
- Chemical equations. Balancing chemical equations. (Simple examples.)
- Acids, bases and salts. Neutralisation - formation of a salt from an acid and a base.
- Mandatory experiment 4.2 - Standardisation of a hydrochloric acid solution using a standard solution of sodium carbonate.
Chemical misconceptions i: chemical reactions.
By Keith S Taber
Explore chemical reactions, how to describe them, form word equations, and why they occur.
Everything you need to teach atomic structure and periodicity at post-16
2023-11-09T05:00:00Z By Johanne Brolly
Top tips and teaching ideas to help your students get to grips with the periodic table and its trends
Overcoming electrochemistry misconceptions
2023-10-10T08:11:00Z By David Read
Use evidence-based research and teacher-tested tips to help your students master this challenging topic
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How to Balance Equations - Printable Worksheets
Balancing Equations Worksheets
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A balanced chemical equation gives the number and type of atoms participating in a reaction, the reactants, products, and direction of the reaction. Balancing an unbalanced equation is mostly a matter of making certain mass and charge are balanced on the reactants and products side of the reaction arrow. This is a collection of printable worksheets to practice balancing equations. The printable worksheets are provided in pdf format with separate answer keys.
Balancing Chemical Equations - Worksheet #1 Balancing Chemical Equations - Answers #1 Balancing Chemical Equations - Worksheet #2 Balancing Chemical Equations - Answers #2 Balancing Chemical Equations - Worksheet #3 Balancing Chemical Equations - Answers #3 Balancing Equations - Worksheet #4 Balancing Equations - Answer Key #4
I also offer printable worksheets for balancing equations on my personal site. The printables are also available as PDF files:
Balancing Equation Practice Sheet [ answer sheet ] Another Equation Worksheet [ answer sheet ] Yet Another Printable Worksheet [ answer key ]
You may also wish to review the step-by-step tutorial on how to balance a chemical equation .
Online Practice Quizzes
Another way to practice balancing equations is by taking a quiz.
Coefficients in Balanced Equations Quiz Balance Chemical Equations Quiz
- Printable Chemistry Worksheets
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- Examples of 10 Balanced Chemical Equations
- 5 Steps for Balancing Chemical Equations
- What Is a Chemical Reaction?
- What Is a Chemical Equation?
- Stoichiometry Definition in Chemistry
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- Introduction To Stoichiometry
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- Mole Ratio: Definition and Examples
- The Balanced Chemical Equation for Photosynthesis
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- 4.1 Writing and Balancing Chemical Equations
- 1.1 Chemistry in Context
- 1.2 Phases and Classification of Matter
- 1.3 Physical and Chemical Properties
- 1.4 Measurements
- 1.5 Measurement Uncertainty, Accuracy, and Precision
- 1.6 Mathematical Treatment of Measurement Results
- Key Equations
- 2.1 Early Ideas in Atomic Theory
- 2.2 Evolution of Atomic Theory
- 2.3 Atomic Structure and Symbolism
- 2.4 Chemical Formulas
- 2.5 The Periodic Table
- 2.6 Ionic and Molecular Compounds
- 2.7 Chemical Nomenclature
- 3.1 Formula Mass and the Mole Concept
- 3.2 Determining Empirical and Molecular Formulas
- 3.3 Molarity
- 3.4 Other Units for Solution Concentrations
- 4.2 Classifying Chemical Reactions
- 4.3 Reaction Stoichiometry
- 4.4 Reaction Yields
- 4.5 Quantitative Chemical Analysis
- 5.1 Energy Basics
- 5.2 Calorimetry
- 5.3 Enthalpy
- 6.1 Electromagnetic Energy
- 6.2 The Bohr Model
- 6.3 Development of Quantum Theory
- 6.4 Electronic Structure of Atoms (Electron Configurations)
- 6.5 Periodic Variations in Element Properties
- 7.1 Ionic Bonding
- 7.2 Covalent Bonding
- 7.3 Lewis Symbols and Structures
- 7.4 Formal Charges and Resonance
- 7.5 Strengths of Ionic and Covalent Bonds
- 7.6 Molecular Structure and Polarity
- 8.1 Valence Bond Theory
- 8.2 Hybrid Atomic Orbitals
- 8.3 Multiple Bonds
- 8.4 Molecular Orbital Theory
- 9.1 Gas Pressure
- 9.2 Relating Pressure, Volume, Amount, and Temperature: The Ideal Gas Law
- 9.3 Stoichiometry of Gaseous Substances, Mixtures, and Reactions
- 9.4 Effusion and Diffusion of Gases
- 9.5 The Kinetic-Molecular Theory
- 9.6 Non-Ideal Gas Behavior
- 10.1 Intermolecular Forces
- 10.2 Properties of Liquids
- 10.3 Phase Transitions
- 10.4 Phase Diagrams
- 10.5 The Solid State of Matter
- 10.6 Lattice Structures in Crystalline Solids
- 11.1 The Dissolution Process
- 11.2 Electrolytes
- 11.3 Solubility
- 11.4 Colligative Properties
- 11.5 Colloids
- 12.1 Chemical Reaction Rates
- 12.2 Factors Affecting Reaction Rates
- 12.3 Rate Laws
- 12.4 Integrated Rate Laws
- 12.5 Collision Theory
- 12.6 Reaction Mechanisms
- 12.7 Catalysis
- 13.1 Chemical Equilibria
- 13.2 Equilibrium Constants
- 13.3 Shifting Equilibria: Le Châtelier’s Principle
- 13.4 Equilibrium Calculations
- 14.1 Brønsted-Lowry Acids and Bases
- 14.2 pH and pOH
- 14.3 Relative Strengths of Acids and Bases
- 14.4 Hydrolysis of Salts
- 14.5 Polyprotic Acids
- 14.6 Buffers
- 14.7 Acid-Base Titrations
- 15.1 Precipitation and Dissolution
- 15.2 Lewis Acids and Bases
- 15.3 Coupled Equilibria
- 16.1 Spontaneity
- 16.2 Entropy
- 16.3 The Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics
- 16.4 Free Energy
- 17.1 Review of Redox Chemistry
- 17.2 Galvanic Cells
- 17.3 Electrode and Cell Potentials
- 17.4 Potential, Free Energy, and Equilibrium
- 17.5 Batteries and Fuel Cells
- 17.6 Corrosion
- 17.7 Electrolysis
- 18.1 Periodicity
- 18.2 Occurrence and Preparation of the Representative Metals
- 18.3 Structure and General Properties of the Metalloids
- 18.4 Structure and General Properties of the Nonmetals
- 18.5 Occurrence, Preparation, and Compounds of Hydrogen
- 18.6 Occurrence, Preparation, and Properties of Carbonates
- 18.7 Occurrence, Preparation, and Properties of Nitrogen
- 18.8 Occurrence, Preparation, and Properties of Phosphorus
- 18.9 Occurrence, Preparation, and Compounds of Oxygen
- 18.10 Occurrence, Preparation, and Properties of Sulfur
- 18.11 Occurrence, Preparation, and Properties of Halogens
- 18.12 Occurrence, Preparation, and Properties of the Noble Gases
- 19.1 Occurrence, Preparation, and Properties of Transition Metals and Their Compounds
- 19.2 Coordination Chemistry of Transition Metals
- 19.3 Spectroscopic and Magnetic Properties of Coordination Compounds
- 20.1 Hydrocarbons
- 20.2 Alcohols and Ethers
- 20.3 Aldehydes, Ketones, Carboxylic Acids, and Esters
- 20.4 Amines and Amides
- 21.1 Nuclear Structure and Stability
- 21.2 Nuclear Equations
- 21.3 Radioactive Decay
- 21.4 Transmutation and Nuclear Energy
- 21.5 Uses of Radioisotopes
- 21.6 Biological Effects of Radiation
- A | The Periodic Table
- B | Essential Mathematics
- C | Units and Conversion Factors
- D | Fundamental Physical Constants
- E | Water Properties
- F | Composition of Commercial Acids and Bases
- G | Standard Thermodynamic Properties for Selected Substances
- H | Ionization Constants of Weak Acids
- I | Ionization Constants of Weak Bases
- J | Solubility Products
- K | Formation Constants for Complex Ions
- L | Standard Electrode (Half-Cell) Potentials
- M | Half-Lives for Several Radioactive Isotopes
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.
An earlier chapter of this text 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 Figure 4.2 , with space-filling molecular models shown in the lower half of the figure.
This example illustrates the fundamental aspects of any chemical equation:
- The substances undergoing reaction are called reactants , and their formulas are placed on the left side of the equation.
- The substances generated by the reaction are called products , and their formulas are placed on the right side of the equation.
- Plus signs (+) separate individual reactant and product formulas, and an arrow (⟶) (⟶) separates the reactant and product (left and right) sides of the equation.
- 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 ( Figure 4.3 ). 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.
The chemical equation described in section 4.1 is balanced , meaning that equal numbers of atoms for each element involved in the reaction are represented on the reactant and product sides. This is a requirement the equation must satisfy to be consistent with the law of conservation of matter. It may be confirmed by simply summing the numbers of atoms on either side of the arrow and comparing these sums to ensure they are equal. Note that the number of atoms for a given element is calculated by multiplying the coefficient of any formula containing that element by the element’s subscript in the formula. If an element appears in more than one formula on a given side of the equation, the number of atoms represented in each must be computed and then added together. For example, both product species in the example reaction, CO 2 and H 2 O, contain the element oxygen, and so the number of oxygen atoms on the product side of the equation is
The equation for the reaction between methane and oxygen to yield carbon dioxide and water is confirmed to be balanced per this approach, as shown here:
A balanced chemical equation often may be derived from a qualitative description of some chemical reaction by a fairly simple approach known as balancing by inspection. Consider as an example the decomposition of water to yield molecular hydrogen and oxygen. This process is represented qualitatively by an unbalanced chemical equation:
Comparing the number of H and O atoms on either side of this equation confirms its imbalance:
The numbers of H atoms on the reactant and product sides of the equation are equal, but the numbers of O atoms are not. To achieve balance, the coefficients of the equation may be changed as needed. Keep in mind, of course, that the formula subscripts define, in part, the identity of the substance, and so these cannot be changed without altering the qualitative meaning of the equation. For example, changing the reactant formula from H 2 O to H 2 O 2 would yield balance in the number of atoms, but doing so also changes the reactant’s identity (it’s now hydrogen peroxide and not water). The O atom balance may be achieved by changing the coefficient for H 2 O to 2.
The H atom balance was upset by this change, but it is easily reestablished by changing the coefficient for the H 2 product to 2.
These coefficients yield equal numbers of both H and O atoms on the reactant and product sides, and the balanced equation is, therefore:
Balancing chemical equations.
Next, count the number of each type of atom present in the unbalanced equation.
Though nitrogen is balanced, changes in coefficients are needed to balance the number of oxygen atoms. To balance the number of oxygen atoms, a reasonable first attempt would be to change the coefficients for the O 2 and N 2 O 5 to integers that will yield 10 O atoms (the least common multiple for the O atom subscripts in these two formulas).
The N atom balance has been upset by this change; it is restored by changing the coefficient for the reactant N 2 to 2.
The numbers of N and O atoms on either side of the equation are now equal, and so the equation is balanced.
Check Your Learning
It is sometimes convenient to use fractions instead of integers as intermediate coefficients in the process of balancing a chemical equation. When balance is achieved, all the equation’s coefficients may then be multiplied by a whole number to convert the fractional coefficients to integers without upsetting the atom balance. For example, consider the reaction of ethane (C 2 H 6 ) with oxygen to yield H 2 O and CO 2 , represented by the unbalanced equation:
Following the usual inspection approach, one might first balance C and H atoms by changing the coefficients for the two product species, as shown:
This results in seven O atoms on the product side of the equation, an odd number—no integer coefficient can be used with the O 2 reactant to yield an odd number, so a fractional coefficient, 7 2 , 7 2 , is used instead to yield a provisional balanced equation:
A conventional balanced equation with integer-only coefficients is derived by multiplying each coefficient by 2:
Finally with regard to balanced equations, recall that convention dictates use of the smallest whole-number coefficients . Although the equation for the reaction between molecular nitrogen and molecular hydrogen to produce ammonia is, indeed, balanced,
the coefficients are not the smallest possible integers representing the relative numbers of reactant and product molecules. Dividing each coefficient by the greatest common factor, 3, gives the preferred equation:
Link to Learning
Use this interactive tutorial for additional practice balancing equations.
Additional Information in Chemical Equations
The physical states of reactants and products in chemical equations very often are indicated with a parenthetical abbreviation following the formulas. Common abbreviations include s for solids, l for liquids, g for gases, and aq for substances dissolved in water ( aqueous solutions , as introduced in the preceding chapter). These notations are illustrated in the example equation here:
This equation represents the reaction that takes place when sodium metal is placed in water. The solid sodium reacts with liquid water to produce molecular hydrogen gas and the ionic compound sodium hydroxide (a solid in pure form, but readily dissolved in water).
Special conditions necessary for a reaction are sometimes designated by writing a word or symbol above or below the equation’s arrow. For example, a reaction carried out by heating may be indicated by the uppercase Greek letter delta (Δ) over the arrow.
Other examples of these special conditions will be encountered in more depth in later chapters.
Equations for Ionic Reactions
Given the abundance of water on earth, it stands to reason that a great many chemical reactions take place in aqueous media. When ions are involved in these reactions, the chemical equations may be written with various levels of detail appropriate to their intended use. To illustrate this, consider a reaction between ionic compounds taking place in an aqueous solution. When aqueous solutions of CaCl 2 and AgNO 3 are mixed, a reaction takes place producing aqueous Ca(NO 3 ) 2 and solid AgCl:
This balanced equation, derived in the usual fashion, is called a molecular equation because it doesn’t explicitly represent the ionic species that are present in solution. When ionic compounds dissolve in water, they may dissociate into their constituent ions, which are subsequently dispersed homogenously throughout the resulting solution (a thorough discussion of this important process is provided in the chapter on solutions). Ionic compounds dissolved in water are, therefore, more realistically represented as dissociated ions, in this case:
Unlike these three ionic compounds, AgCl does not dissolve in water to a significant extent, as signified by its physical state notation, s .
Explicitly representing all dissolved ions results in a complete ionic equation . In this particular case, the formulas for the dissolved ionic compounds are replaced by formulas for their dissociated ions:
Examining this equation shows that two chemical species are present in identical form on both sides of the arrow, Ca 2+ ( aq ) and NO 3 − ( a q ) . NO 3 − ( a q ) . These spectator ions —ions whose presence is required to maintain charge neutrality—are neither chemically nor physically changed by the process, and so they may be eliminated from the equation to yield a more succinct representation called a net ionic equation :
Following the convention of using the smallest possible integers as coefficients, this equation is then written:
This net ionic equation indicates that solid silver chloride may be produced from dissolved chloride and silver(I) ions, regardless of the source of these ions. These molecular and complete ionic equations provide additional information, namely, the ionic compounds used as sources of Cl − and Ag + .
Ionic and molecular equations.
Balance is achieved easily in this case by changing the coefficient for NaOH to 2, resulting in the molecular equation for this reaction:
The two dissolved ionic compounds, NaOH and Na 2 CO 3 , can be represented as dissociated ions to yield the complete ionic equation:
Finally, identify the spectator ion(s), in this case Na + ( aq ), and remove it from each side of the equation to generate the net ionic equation:
Write balanced molecular, complete ionic, and net ionic equations for this process.
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Course: chemistry library > unit 5.
- Chemical reactions introduction
- Balancing chemical equations
- Balancing more complex chemical equations
- Visually understanding balancing chemical equations
- Balancing another combustion reaction
- Balancing chemical equation with substitution
Balancing chemical equations 1
- Your answer should be
- an integer, like 6
- an exact decimal, like 0.75
- a simplified proper fraction, like 3 / 5
- a simplified improper fraction, like 7 / 4
- a mixed number, like 1 3 / 4
Balancing Chemical Equations with Ease (100 Free Worksheets)
- October 2, 2019
In this article, you will learn about how to balance chemical equations easily with simple steps. Feel free to download our free worksheets with answers for your practice.
Parts of a Balanced Chemical Equation
Before you start balancing chemical equations, it is important that you become firmly acquainted with the various part of one. Every balanced chemical equation consists of two parts: the reactant side and the product side. Both of these sides are separated by the means of an arrow.
On the left side of the arrow, you will find the reactant side. This side represents the elements which are used for initiating the experiment. On the right side of the arrow, we have the product side. This side is used to display the elements or compounds which are generated from the chemical process.
The Need for Balancing Chemical Equations
Ever since you started learning about the field of Chemistry, your teachers might often have stressed upon the importance of balancing chemical equations. But have you ever pondered on the reason behind this? Why do you need to respect the law of the conservation of mass? Quite simply, you need to balance your equations to follow the law of conservation of mass.
Law of Conservation of Mass: According to the law of conservation of mass, the mass of products that are derived from a chemical equation should mandatorily equal the mass of the reactants.
Minding the law of conservation of mass while balancing equations is quite important. Not only does it help you to prevent errors, but it also assists scientists in knowing the quantities of reactants to create a particular product that they want to make. Moreover, the law also helps chemical manufacturers to increase the efficiencies of their processes.
When Should You Start To Balance A Chemical Equation?
As soon as you derive a chemical equation stating the reactants and the products, check out if the number of atoms on either side are equal to each other or not. In the event that you detect the numbers to be uncommon, rest assured, you should start balancing the elements and compounds on either side of the chemical equation.
How Should You Balance A Chemical Equation?
The primary aspect that you need to keep in mind while balancing a chemical equation is this; the entire process is completely based on trial and error. When you start to balance a particular chemical equation, you will need to go through several processes before you stumble upon the right coefficients to balance the number of atoms.
Another aspect that you need to remember is that balancing chemical equations requires a lot of practice. Once you perfect the practice of balancing, you can become completely reliant on your intuition to lead you through the complete process.
While balancing your equations, you need to follow certain simple stems. Here’s what you need to do:
- Start by counting the number of atoms, present for each element on the side of the reactants as well as the products.
- When you find out that certain elements are not balanced, place the required coefficient that is needed to balance the elements.
- Once you are done with this, check out if the number of atoms for the other elements is also equal on both the sides.
- Repeat the process until you find out that all the elements on both the sides of the chemical equations are balanced.
As aforementioned, the process in itself is quite simple. However, it takes significant practice before can start to balance these equations completely with your intuition.
An Easy Example To Get You Started With
Now that you know the steps, you are wholly capable of balancing chemical equations. Let’s solve some of them, shall we? With the help of above-mentioned steps and a practical example, you will be better able to understand how the entire process works.
Do not feel anxious if you feel that you are still not ready to solve these problems. With our method, even your toddler sibling will be able to understand how chemical equations are balanced. And if still feel a tad bit confused after solving all these equations, try to solve a few more of such problems. Remember what we advised in a previous section: You will need significant practice before you can confidently start to balance these equations with your intuition.
Let’s start with this example. This equation represents a reaction between two Iron Oxide (Fe 2 O 3 ) and Carbon (C). The products formed are Iron (Fe) and Carbon Dioxide (CO 2 ).
Fe 2 O 3 + C → Fe + CO 2
Alright, so we have our equation. Let’s begin to balance the equation with the help of the steps mentioned above.
Step 1: Start by counting the number of atoms present, for each element on the side of the reactants as well as the products.
On the reactants side, we have:
- 2 atoms of Fe
- 3 atoms of O
- 1 atom of C
On the product side, we have:
- 1 atom of Fe
- 2 atoms of O
By comparing the number of atoms present for each element on each side, you might have determined that the reaction is obviously not balanced. Therefore, let’s move on to Step 2.
Step 2: When you find out that certain elements are not balanced, place the required coefficient that is needed to balance the elements.
Let’s start by balancing the oxygen atoms. To do this, make the oxygen atoms as six on either side of the chemical equation.
2Fe 2 O 3 + C → Fe + 3CO 2
On towards the next step now.
Step 3: Once you are done with this, check out if the number of atoms for the other elements is also equal on both the sides.
Now that we have an equal number of oxygen atoms on either side of the equation, let’s check out if the other elements of the equation are equal or not.
2Fe 2 O 3 + C → Fe + 3CO 2
On the reactant side, we have:
- 4 atoms of Fe.
- 6 atoms of O.
- 1 atom of C.
- 1 atom of Fe.
- 3 atoms of C.
As you can see, the elements of iron and carbon are still not balanced. Therefore, it is time that we move on to the 4 th step.
Step 4: Repeat the process until you find out that all the elements on both the sides of the chemical equations are balanced.
Alright, let’s start balancing the equation again and this time, let’s balance the number of iron atoms first. On the reactant side, we have 4 atoms of Fe while the product side has 1 atom of Fe. To balance them, we need to place 4 atoms of Fe on the product side.
2Fe 2 O 3 + C → 4Fe + 3CO 2
Now, on the reactant side we have:
And, on the product side, we have:
The only element that remains to be balanced now is carbon. This can be easily done considering the fact that carbon exists only in a singular form on the reactant side. In order to correct this, we need to place 3 atoms of carbon on the reactant side. The chemical reaction, hence, will turn out to be:
2Fe 2 O 3 + 3C → 4Fe + 3CO 2
And there you go. Perfectly balanced as all things should be (Yes. We are Marvel fanboys as well).
Essential Tips for Beginners
As you become further acquainted with balancing chemical equations, it becomes quite easy for you to solve them. However, it still maintains a certain level of difficulty at the beginner level. As a result of this, you might find yourself shying away from the equations and procrastinating to the level where you get totally and utterly repulsed by them.
However, there are certain tips that help you during such a stage. When you are beginner, you will be solving quite easy problems compared to those you might see in your Chemistry books. During such times, you will need to keep two essential tips in your mind. These tips will help you to easily balance the equations with ease. These tips are:
- Start Balancing With Single Elements – Attempt at balancing those elements first which occur in the form of a single molecule first. Owing to their single nature, they are easily flexible and their coefficient can be easily changed as and when needed in further steps.
- Balance the Hydrogen and Oxygen Molecules at the End – At the beginning, you will come across a lot of equations involving hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Whenever you encounter these, you should interact with these at the end. This is because hydrogen and oxygen molecules often occur together in both the reactant and product side. Once you are done with balancing other elements, focus on these.
Format for Writing a Balanced Equation
Now that you have balanced the assigned chemical reaction, you might be wondering if there is a format for writing these balanced chemical equations. In actuality, there is not said format that you need to mind for arranging the balanced equation. However, it has also been noticed that people in the field of chemistry often prefer to write solid elements and other compounds first, followed by the gaseous elements and single elements. This often acts as an unwritten rule which is followed by a lot of people around the world.
The Coefficients in a Balanced Chemical Equation
Up until this point of balancing your chemical equations, you might have known about the various facets surrounding the chemical equation. But there is still one significant aspect of balancing which we haven’t discussed: The role of coefficients while balancing equations.
At some point or another, you might have certainly wondered how are these coefficients be used while balancing the equation. After all, we cannot magically create or destroy elements during a chemical reaction. The Law of Conservation of Mass prevents this. In actuality, these coefficients define the ratios. For the reactant side, the coefficients define the ratio in which the substances are being used. And for the product side, the coefficients define the ratio in which the substances are being produced.
What a Balanced Chemical Equation Does Not Tell Us
Balanced chemical equations are highly informative in nature. They divulge a lot of information which is implemented for deriving the desired results from the reactions. However, there are certain aspects which balanced chemical equations don’t make you aware of just by solving the equations. The most prominent aspects amongst these are the subscripts used.
Take, for example, the last chemical equation which we balanced.
Now, if you notice, the element Fe has the subscript 2 beside itself, signifying the number of atoms. But if you notice on the product side, element lacks any subscript. This is quite similar to the oxygen element as well. On one hand, it has the subscript 3 while it has the subscript 2 on the other hand.
In spite of all this, the total mass of the individual atoms present on both sides of the equation is equal to each other. This is due to the Law of Conservation of Mass which ensures that matter isn’t created nor destroyed during a chemical reaction. This is also the reason why the total number of individual atoms are equal on both the reactant and product side.
Rules for Balancing Chemical Equations
By this point, you might have become nicely acquainted with balancing chemical equations on your own. Resulting, the rules associated with balancing chemical equations must also have become imprinted within your mind. It is with the help of such rules that you can easily balance the assigned chemical equations. However, it is equally important that you put these rules on paper and revise them once thoroughly.
Here are a few of the most prominent rules, include:
- Keep The Placement of Reactants and Products in Mind – In every chemical equation, there are two parts to an equation. These parts are separated by an arrow. While writing down the chemical equation, take care to list all the reactants on the left-hand side of the arrow. Similarly, you should take care to list all the products on the right side of the arrow.
- Ensure That The Right Arrow Is Placed – In most cases, the reactants and the products are separated by a single-sided arrow. This signifies a reaction which is irreversible or is unchangeable after a certain stage. However, in certain situations, the reactions occur at equilibrium. This means that reaction at any forward rate results in a reverse reaction. In such situations, the arrow used is two-sided, i.e. facing towards the reactants and the products.
- Emphasize on The Law of Conservation of Mass – While balancing the equations, it is of a predominant nature that you keep applying the Law of Conservation of Mass. This is because matter can neither be produced nor destroyed. Keeping this law in mind greatly helps you while balancing equations. Whenever you find an element which has more or less number of molecules, you can easily place a coefficient to balance it.
- Start With Independent Elements – When you start to balance the equation, start by balancing the independent elements. These are the elements which appear in individually in the equation. If there is no such element or if these elements are already balanced, proceed with the elements that exist in conjunction with other elements. Once this particular element is balanced, you should proceed on to balance other elements until all the elements are balanced.
- Balanced Only With Coefficients – While balancing the chemical equations, balance them only by placing coefficients in front of them. By no means should you add subscripts because this will completely change the formula of the particular reactant or compound, causing a change in the entire meaning that the equation wants to render.
Balancing Chemical Equations with Matrices
Up until this point, you have been balancing chemical equations by the means of trial and error. The process was simple, you had to place a coefficient, check if the other elements were balanced or not, and repeat all the steps until you had all the elements balanced.
However, it won’t be long before you face even tougher balancing problems. And you will face innumerous problems while using the trial and error method for such tough equations. Therefore, on such occasions, you will need a more versatile method for solving the problems.
Fortunately, there is one such methodology for solving chemical equations. This method involves a matrix which you can use to easily solve even the toughest of equations. Here are the steps that you should follow while solving chemical equations:
- Start by placing an alphabet which acts as a variable coefficient for your elements.
- Arrange all the elements in a column matrix format, as per the subscript values.
- Solve each of these matrices and generate the various equations.
- Individually equate all these equations and place the values generated into the other equations that you generated in Step 4.
- Assume a particular number for each of the values, such that, neither of the values that you derive appear in the form of a fraction and use this number to find out the values of the other coefficients.
- Finally, place these values into the initial chemical reaction to derive your balance equation.
Let’s use a simple example to understand this process. Take this chemical equation for instance:
NO + O 2 → NO 2
Now, this is quite a simple equation. In fact, you might have even figured out how to balance this equation. In spite of this, we will use a simple methodology to help you understand how the entire process works.
Step 1: Start by placing an alphabet which acts as a variable coefficient for your elements
You can use any alphabet as a variable coefficient. For our purpose, we will be using alphabets X, Y, and Z. We will be placing them in this order:
X NO + Y O 2 → Z NO 2
Step 2: Arrange all the elements in a column matrix format, as per the subscript values.
You should always follow a format for arranging the elements in a column matrix format. First, start by counting the number of atoms present for every individual occurrence of each element. From our first equation, we can derive that:
No. of N atoms = 1 + No. of N atoms = 0 → No. of N atoms = 1
No. of O atoms = 1 + No. of O atoms = 2 → No. of O atoms = 2
According to this format, we will separate the values of each of the elements according to the number of atoms present. Each of these positions will display a value depending on the number of those elements at that particular location. Hence, this is how we will display the values of the elements that are separated into the form of matrices:
X + Y → Z
Notice that value signifying the elements show that each of the elements acquires a particular row. In essence, the nitrogen element acquires the first row while oxygen acquires the second row.
Step 3: Solve each of these matrices and generate the various equations
Once you have the matrices, you need to solve them and generate the required equations for them. The equations that you generate, generally, depending on the number of elements present within the equation. In this case, we have two elements. Therefore, the equations that formed are:
- X + Y0 = Z or X = Z (Equation i)
- X + 2Y = 2Z (Equation ii)
Step 4: Individually equate all these equations and place the values generated into the other equations that you generated in Step 4.
We have already generated the value of the coefficient X in Equation i. The value of X that we have generated is Z. Therefore, it is time that we focused on Equation ii.
X + 2Y = 2Z
According to Equation i, X = Z. Therefore,
- Z + 2Y = 2Z
- 2Y = 2Z – Z
- Y = ½Z (Equation iii)
Step 5: Assume a particular number for each of the values, such that, neither of the values that you derive appears in the form of a fraction and use this number to find out the values of the other coefficients.
Once we have generated the final equations, it is time that we used them to generate the final values for our coefficients. In order to do this, we need to assume a particular value for each of the variable coefficients, such that the result does not turn out to be a fractional value.
Let’s start by assuming that the value of Z = 1. If Z = 1, then Y = 1/2 (according to the Equation iii). However, we don’t want a fractional value as our result. Therefore, let’s assume that Z = 2. Now that Z = 2, therefore Y = 1. Resultingly, the value of X = 2, since X = Z (as per equation i).
Step 6: Finally, place these values into the initial chemical reaction to derive your balance equation.
The equation which we had at the beginning, was:
According to the results generated by, the value of the variable coefficients stand as per the following:
Let’s place these values into the equation. Upon doing so, we get:
2NO + O 2 → 2NO 2
Therefore, on the reactant side, we have:
- 2 atoms of N
- 4 atoms of O
And on the product side, we have:
- 2 atoms of N.
- 4 atoms of O.
As there you have it again. A perfectly balanced chemical equation solved with the help of matrices.
Balancing Chemical Equations with Odd Number of Atoms on Elements
Another area wherein balancing becomes a tricky affair is during the presence of odd subscripts or atoms of an element. Let us take into consideration, this particular equation:
NH 3 + O 2 → NO + H 2 O
The first thing that you will want to do in such cases is to balance those elements which are present in odd numbers on one side but are present in even numbers on the other side of the chemical equation. In this case, we have hydrogen following such a suit. Let us balance this out first.
2NH 3 + O 2 → NO + 3H 2 O
Now, we need to balance nitrogen to equate the reaction.
2NH 3 + O 2 → 2NO + 3H 2 O
At this point, all the elements present in our chemical equations are balanced… except for oxygen. Hence, you will need to find out a coefficient which can effectively help you to balance the oxygen molecule present on the left-hand side of the reaction. On the reactant side, we have 2 oxygen molecules while on the product side, we have 5 oxygen molecules. Therefore, we will need to find a number which, when multiplied by 2, gives us 5 as the answer. Let this number be x.
Therefore, let us place this value into the equation.
2NH 3 + 5/2O 2 → 2NO + 3H 2 O
Finally, we need to eliminate the fractional part of the equation. Let’s do so by multiplying the entire chemical equation with 2.
4NH 3 + 5O 2 → 4NO + 6H 2 O
And there you have it. The equation becomes perfectly balanced.
A Few Examples worth Mentioning
Now that you have covered everything that is to be learned about the basics of balancing chemical equations, you should get yourself acquainted with certain worthwhile chemical equations.
- Chemical Reaction for Photosynthesis
6CO 2 + 6H 2 O → C 6 H 12 O 6 + 6O 2
- Chemical Reaction for Cellular Respiration
C 6 H 12 O 6 + 6O 2 → CO 2 + H 2 O + ATP
- Chemical Reaction for Ammonium Nitrate and Water
NH 4 NO 3 + Water → NH 4 + NO 3
- Chemical Reaction for Magnesium and Hydrochloric Acid
Mg + HCl → MgCl 2 + H 2
- Chemical Reaction for Lithium and Water
2 Li + 2H 2 O → 2 LiOH + H 2
- Chemical Reaction for Calcium Carbonate and Hydrochloric Acid
CaCO 3 + HCl → CaCl 2 + H 2 O
Using Games and Apps to Learn About Balancing Chemical Equations
It has not escaped our sights that a technologically-savvy world such as ours often uses technological means to better understand any newer concepts that they come across. Keeping this factor in mind, we have brought for you two of the greatest means by which you can enhance your skills at balancing chemical equations while simultaneously enjoying it via your smartphones of computers. Here are the means:
- Balancing Chemical Equations – We often encounter situations in which, whatever we do, we fail to solve the equation that has presented itself to us. And let’s be honest, all of us have been there at some point in our lives. It is in such situations that you might find the need for additional help. And this is exactly what Balancing Chemical Equations aims to do. With the help of this application, you will be easily able to balance the toughest of chemical equations. All that you need to do is to enter the unbalanced reactants and products and by clicking a button, the app displays the balanced chemical equation. You can find the Balancing Chemical Equations application on Google Play for free. Here’s a link for the same.
2. The Balancing Equations Game from PHET – Now, an application can only go so far as to keep you engaged. But this is completely contrary to what games can do at keeping you engaged. One of the most engaging games comes from PHET. At their website, you will find the Balancing Equations Game. Upon choosing the option, you are redirected towards a screen for choosing the difficulty of the game. This game is quite interesting. Having tried it out ourselves, we can assure you that not only is it engaging and entertaining, but it is quite informative as well. Therefore, it is one game that you should play if you want to get better at balancing chemical equations and get entertained for a while. Here’s a link to their website.
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Home » Worksheets » A Comprehensive Collection Of Balancing Chemical Equations Worksheets
A Comprehensive Collection Of Balancing Chemical Equations Worksheets
Balancing equations can be a tricky topic to introduce to your chemistry class, and it is common for students to need help with the concept initially. A suitable worksheet can help to clarify the concept and help pupils work through the process each time. Making up worksheets is a task teachers often struggle to make time for, so finding resources online is a great time saver. However, not all worksheets are of an equivalent standard, and it can often take much longer than anticipated to find high-quality materials. To save you time and effort, we have compiled a list of our favorite balancing equations worksheets to make your teaching easier.
Depending on what year group you teach, you may have different needs from your worksheet. However, the key with balancing equations is to try as many examples as possible, so the worksheets we have chosen all have plenty of practice examples. Ideally, your class should be confident in writing chemical formula before you begin teaching balancing equations, as otherwise, they may struggle, especially when asked to start from the word equation.
Table of Contents
The best balancing equations worksheets, where can i find high-quality balancing equations worksheets, final thoughts, writing chemical equations worksheet by threefourthsme.
This resource from Teach Simple gives students practice in writing balanced chemical equations from word equations.
Your class will need good prior knowledge of writing chemical formulae and a basic understanding of how to balance an equation. Suitable for Grade 9 upward.
Balancing Chemical Equations Explained By Elf off the Shelf Resources
This comprehensive resource from Teach Simple is a great way to introduce balancing equations to your chemistry class. It includes a PowerPoint explaining how to balance them, a worksheet with hints and tips to help make it easier for them, and a further consolidation worksheet. Includes an answer scheme to allow for peer marking.
Set of 10 Balancing Equations Worksheets from StudyLib.Net
This comprehensive resource contains ten worksheets that will take your class through the concept of conservation of mass and balancing equations, then give them plenty of practice. It can be used to introduce the topic in class, then consolidation as homework.
Balancing Chemical Equations Interactive Worksheet By Liveworksheets
This simple, interactive worksheet allows students to practice balancing equations on their phone or another electronic device, then either have them marked electronically or send them to you for marking. They can also be printed as a PDF if you prefer.
Balancing Word Equations Worksheet By Liveworksheets
If your class is ready for the ultimate balancing equations challenge, this worksheet will keep them busy! Each example requires them to first write the word equation from a description of the reaction, then the symbol equation, then finally, the balanced equation. There are 36 examples in total, so your students should be experts in balancing equations by the time they have finished!
Balancing Equations Scaffolded Worksheet By Twinkl
This scaffolded worksheet uses diagrams to explain the concept of balancing equations and gradually gives them less help as they learn to balance without the visual aid.
Balancing Chemical Equations Lab Station By Teach With Fergy
This lab station activity is the perfect way to create an engaging lesson for your class with virtually no preparation work from you! Students will be out of their seats and engaging with each other, learning without even realizing! Just make sure to print the cards in advance, and you will be good to go!
Balancing Equations Interactive Activity By Phet
This interactive resource is a great way to introduce balancing equations to your class. Students can see the effect of the balancing on scales, making it easier for them to understand what is happening. As they progress, the scales can be removed to make it more challenging. Finally, there is a game to be played after mastering the concept.
Although thousands of worksheets are available to help teach balancing equations, finding high-quality ones can be a challenge. Many free resources are poor quality and may have many mistakes, meaning you are wasting time correcting them instead of planning your lesson.
For this reason, most teachers choose to use paid platforms to source materials that have been made by fellow teachers, as these are usually of higher quality. However, most of these websites require you to pay individually for each resource, and the cost of this can add up very quickly.
At Teach Simple, we do things differently. For an affordable monthly fee, you can download unlimited resources from qualified teachers, creating consistently engaging lessons without breaking the bank. We have lesson plans, worksheets, games, ebooks, and so much more. Find out for yourself by signing up for our free trial .
Balancing equations is a topic that many pupils dislike and find challenging. Having good-quality worksheets to provide to your class will make this topic much more manageable. By signing up to Teach Simple, you will have access to these resources and many more chemistry materials to keep you going!
Download unlimited teaching resources, join free today.
Elaine T. is a teacher with 17 years of experience teaching 11-18 year-olds in Scotland, UK.
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Word Equation Chemistry
Displaying top 8 worksheets found for - Word Equation Chemistry .
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Nuclear Chemistry Alpha Beta Gamma Decay Practice Worksheet Answers
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Nuclear Chemistry Practice 1/2 Sheet
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Nuclear Fission Worksheets
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Word Equations Worksheet - Chemistry KS3 / GCSE
Age range: 14-16
Resource type: Worksheet/Activity
14 November 2023
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Three differentiated worksheets on writing word equations for chemical reactions. These have been produced for KS3 or GCSE Chemistry students. Full answers are included.
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