How do you solve limiting reagent problems?


Quick Answer

The first step in solving a limiting reagent problem is identifying the limiting agent in a chemical reaction. This is achieved by finding and comparing the mole ratio of the amount of reactants involved, according to UC Davis ChemWiki.

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Full Answer

Start by formulating the balanced equation for the chemical process. When applicable, use molar mass as the conversion factor in expressing all supplied information in moles. Use the information given to calculate the mole ratio and compare it to the actual ratio. Work out the amount of product produced based on the amount of the limiting reactant. If need be, find out how much of the non-limiting reactant is left once the reaction stops.

A limiting reagent problem occurs when one of the reactants is used up before a reaction is complete. If reactants in a chemical process are not mixed in the correct stoichiometric ratios, as required for a balanced equation, the limiting reagent determines when the reaction stops, and the other reagent is not fully consumed.

In a chemical reaction involving 50.6 grams of magnesium hydroxide and 45 grams of hydrochloric acid to produce magnesium chloride and water, hydrochloric acid would be the limiting reagent if more moles of the reactant were needed than available, according to class notes from Towson University.

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