4.1 Writing and Balancing Chemical Equations
Chemical equations are symbolic representations of chemical and physical changes. Formulas for the substances undergoing the change (reactants) and substances generated by the change (products) are separated by an arrow and preceded by integer coefficients indicating their relative numbers. Balanced equations are those whose coefficients result in equal numbers of atoms for each element in the reactants and products. Chemical reactions in aqueous solution that involve ionic reactants or products may be represented more realistically by complete ionic equations and, more succinctly, by net ionic equations.
4.2 Classifying Chemical Reactions
Chemical reactions are classified according to similar patterns of behavior. A large number of important reactions are included in three categories: precipitation, acid-base, and oxidation-reduction (redox). Precipitation reactions involve the formation of one or more insoluble products. Acid-base reactions involve the transfer of hydrogen ions between reactants. Redox reactions involve a change in oxidation number for one or more reactant elements. Writing balanced equations for some redox reactions that occur in aqueous solutions is simplified by using a systematic approach called the half-reaction method.
4.3 Reaction Stoichiometry
A balanced chemical equation may be used to describe a reaction’s stoichiometry (the relationships between amounts of reactants and products). Coefficients from the equation are used to derive stoichiometric factors that subsequently may be used for computations relating reactant and product masses, molar amounts, and other quantitative properties.
4.4 Reaction Yields
When reactions are carried out using less-than-stoichiometric quantities of reactants, the amount of product generated will be determined by the limiting reactant. The amount of product generated by a chemical reaction is its actual yield. This yield is often less than the amount of product predicted by the stoichiometry of the balanced chemical equation representing the reaction (its theoretical yield). The extent to which a reaction generates the theoretical amount of product is expressed as its percent yield.
4.5 Quantitative Chemical Analysis
The stoichiometry of chemical reactions may serve as the basis for quantitative chemical analysis methods. Titrations involve measuring the volume of a titrant solution required to completely react with a sample solution. This volume is then used to calculate the concentration of analyte in the sample using the stoichiometry of the titration reaction. Gravimetric analysis involves separating the analyte from the sample by a physical or chemical process, determining its mass, and then calculating its concentration in the sample based on the stoichiometry of the relevant process. Combustion analysis is a gravimetric method used to determine the elemental composition of a compound by collecting and weighing the gaseous products of its combustion.