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Balancing a chemical equation by counting atoms

In our system of education, we are required to balance chemical equations without using a calculator. Thus, balancing complex equations is a bit hard.

How can we balance an equation by breaking the main equation into a list of possible reactions taking place between the reactants in order to get the final answer?

Thank you!

spock Thu, 06/25/2009 - 13:19

Complex reactions are usually redox reactions.  These reactions can be broken into half reactions.  You then balance the 1/2 reactions separately and then add the balanced half reactions together to get your balanced overall reaction.

Balancing 1/2 reactions in this manner requires a recognition of the laws of conservation of mass (a balanced equation must have the same # of each type of atom on both the product and reactant side) and the law of conservation of charge (the total charge of the reactants must be equal to the total charge of the products).

hey.twix Fri, 06/26/2009 - 05:40

Yes, I got that, but it would, in my opinion, take a lot of time to break the chemical equation into half equations! We find it difficult to determine if the half equations we make are correct or wrong...
Is there a way of determining that? In a particular equation there we some rare elements used, and I was unable to break the equation and balance it.