How to balance a chemical equation?

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The following steps can be followed while balancing chemical equations.
1. Start by finding out how many atoms of each type are on each side of the equation.
2. Next, look for an element which is in only one chemical, on the left and in only one on the right of the equation. But it is usually a good idea to leave hydrogen and oxygen until you've done the others first.
3. To balance that element, multiply the chemical species on the side which doesn't have enough atoms of that type by the number required to bring it up to the same as the other side. The number is called the coefficient.


If you have to multiply by, say, 212, do so, then multiply everything on each side of the equation by two, to get rid of the half.

We don't like having halves in equations, as you can't get half a molecule.

Now look for the next element or species that is not balanced and do the same thing.

Repeat until you are forced to balance the hydrogen and oxygens.

If there is a complex ion, sometimes called a polyatomic ion, on each side of the equation that has remained intact, then that can often be balanced first, as it acts as a single species. The ions NO3- and CO23- are examples of a complex ion.

A VERY useful rule is to leave balancing oxygen and hydrogen to the last steps as these elements are often in more than one chemical on each side, and it is not always easy to know where to start. Some people also say you should leave any atom or species with a valancy of one one until the end, and also generally leave anything present as an element to the end.

In Example 1 above, you would balance the carbons first, by putting a 3 in front of the CO2, then balance the hydrogens by putting a 4 in front of H2O and finally the oxygens (which are in more than one compound on the right, so we leave them until last) by putting a 5 in front of the O2.

Example 2
Unbalanced equation:- H2SO4+FeFe2(SO4)3+H2

Balance the SO4 first (as it is a complex ion and it is in one chemcial species on each side)


Now balance the Fe (which is also in one chemical on each side)


Finally, balance the hydrogen (although it is in one chemical species on each side, it is usually a good idea to leave it until last)

Balanced Equation:- 3H2SO4+2FeFe2(SO4)3+3H2

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