What Is a Product in Science?

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In science, a product is what is formed is when two or more chemicals or raw materials react. There can be more than one product that is formed in a chemical reaction. The chemicals or raw materials that exist before the reaction are called reactants.

It is important to note that the reactants and products involved in a chemical reaction are made up of the same atoms. Bonds between atoms are created or broken during the chemical reactions, resulting in new substances that have makeups that are different from their reactants. 

Products and Chemical Changes

The CK-12 Foundation explains that products are the result of some type of chemical change. Think of a burning candle: The candle is transformed into a different kind of matter — water dioxide and vapor. In this case, the reactants would be the candle (comprised of its wick and wax) and oxygen, which is already present in the air. 

Writing Chemical Reactions

In science, chemical reactions are typically expressed in the form of an equation. Pressbooks explains that an arrow pointing right (→) signifies the reactants react to yield a product. The items on the left are the reactants, while the items on the right are the products. Plus signs can be found on both sides of the equation and indicate separate product or reactant formulas. 

Sometimes, these equations must balance, meaning that the number of atoms for each element must be equal on the reactant and product sides of the equation. To balance them, you may be required to change the coefficients in the equation. 

Examples of Chemical Reactions 

There are five basic types of chemical reactions, which vary based on how reactants interact to form a new product or products. However, it is worth noting that some reactions can fall into more than one category. The Carolina Biological Supply Company explains them like this: 

  • Combination or synthesis reactions: When two or more reactants combine to create one new product (A + B → AB)
  • Decomposition reactions: When a single reactant deteriorates to form two or more products (AB → A +B)
  • Single-replacement reactions: When one element replaces a similar element of another reactant compound (A + BC → AB+ C)
  • Double-replacement or metathesis reactions: When (AB + CD → AD + BC)
  • Combustion reactions: When a substance reacts with oxygen gas, resulting in a release of energy in the form of light and heat; these reactions must have O2 as one of its reactants

Chemical Reactions in Everyday Life

Chemical reactions, and the products that are formed by them, are present all around us. Some of the most popular types of reactions are covered in biology, which encompasses all living things.

A well-known chemical reaction is cellular respiration, which the Khan Academy says is how organisms break down glucose to create energy. The process can occur with (aerobically), or without (anaerobically) without oxygen.

Whether or not it involves oxygen, both reactions yield Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a form of energy that supports just about every living thing. 

A second well-known chemical reaction is photosynthesis, which Sciencing describes as what plants do to convert light energy to chemical energy. The process removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to create oxygen that we use to breathe. 

Reactants involved in photosynthesis are light energy, water, carbon dioxide, and chlorophyll. The products are glucose or sugar, oxygen, and water.