chemistry
posted by Taz on .
Could you please explain to me how to balance a chemical equation? I've been trying to figure it out, but I can't seem to understand it at all.

There are two types of equations to balance.
1)nonredox which are balanced by trial and error.
2) redox equations which have rules that can be followed (although sometimes they can be balanced by trial and error also).
I assume you want #1. Here is a simple one.
CH4 + O2 ==> CO2 + H2O
1. I look at the equation and just start with the first element. C is 1 on the left and 1 on the right. Temporarily, at least, this one is ok for now unless something else changes it.
2. Then I look at H. There are 4 atoms on the left and I can make it 4 on the right by adding a coefficient of 2 for H2O so now the equation looks like this.
CH4 + O2 ==> CO2 + 2H2O
3. When balancing oxygen, I notice it stands by itself; therefore, I NEVER try to add O2 and try to balance it on the right. I ALWAYS count up what I need on the right, then make the one on the left the number I need. On the right I have 4 O atoms (2 from CO2 and 2 from 2H2O = 4). So I need 4 on the left and I can get that by placing a coefficient of 2 for O2 so the balanced equation reads as
CH4 + 2O2 ==> CO2 + 2H2O.
4. I ALWAYS check it to make sure it is right. I see 1 C on left and right.
I see 4 H atoms on left and right.
I see 4 O atoms on left and right. Equation is balanced.
5. How do you get more proficient at this? Practice, practice, practice.