Hess's Law

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So in Hess's law, I have a question on the why.

from an example in my book,

c+h20-> co+h2

and the intermediary reactions are

C+o2 ->Co2
2CO+O2->2Co2
2H2+O2->2h2O

Along the way, the second reaction is reversed and halved.

Now, Hess's law says that the pathway is irrelevant. But, in the actual physical reaction in the original, I do not believe that these intermediary steps actually take place. Especially the reversing of the second, since the single arrow pointed right would indicate that it is exceedingly difficult to seperate the product into its component reactants.

I think that it may have something to do with innate ratios of energy between certain compounds, but I'm not sure.

Any thoughts?

Thanks
 

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