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How do I balance chemical equations?

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Quick Answer

The process of balancing an equation involves applying the law of conservation of mass and ensuring every element on each side of the equation has the same number of atoms. The process is completed in three distinct steps.

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Full Answer

The first step in balancing an equation is to write it. Start by placing the chemical formulas of reactants on the left-hand side of the equation and the products on the right-hand side. Reactants and products are separated by placing an arrow between them to show the direction of the reaction. A reaction at equilibrium is signified by arrows facing in both directions.

Apply the law of conservation of mass and attempt to get the same number of atoms of every element on both sides. According to About, a good tip is to start by balancing an element that appears in only reactant and product. When the first element is balanced, continue to balance another and another until the equation is completed. Remember that balancing an equation is done by adding coefficients in front of the chemical formula, and subscripts should never be added as they change the formula.

The final step in balancing an equation is to indicate the state of matter of the reactants and products. Use the letter g for gaseous substances, the letter s for solids, the letter l for liquids and aq for aqueous solutions

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