# How do i balance this chem equation?/can i use decimals & fractions?

1. Sep 2, 2011

### supernova1203

the question asks me to balance the following equation

C2H3NO + H2O ---> C2H8N2O + 2CO2

i attempted to balance it

2C2H3NO + H2O ---> C2H8N2O + 2CO2

i cant get all the oxygens to be equal, if someone can show me how to do this last step, id appreciate it

also can one use decimals/fractions to balance a tricky equation?

2. Sep 2, 2011

### obafgkmrns

That reaction can't be balanced. The numbers are just incompatible. Perhaps there's a typo in the question?

There's nothing essentially wrong with using fractions, but it's customary to clear them out in presenting the answer.

3. Sep 2, 2011

### supernova1203

man this is the 10th time theres been a typo, this chemistry textbook is full of em.. :(

4. Sep 2, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

It can be balanced with CO as a product.

5. Sep 2, 2011

### supernova1203

can you show me how?

6. Sep 2, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Try, it is not that hard. Just write CO instead of CO2. That's not the same reaction, but perhaps that's the mistake they did.

7. Sep 2, 2011

### jackmell

Absolutely. The chemical equation is an empirical device and as such, represents moles of species reacting and not just single molecules so it's perfectably acceptable to say, 1/2 of a mole is used in this equation as opposed to saying 1/2 of a molecule.

8. Sep 2, 2011

### obafgkmrns

Or maybe C2H8N2 on the right-hand side? I'm not sure C2H8N2O is even possible.

9. Sep 2, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Note: it is perfectly acceptable to use fraction during balancing, however, it is less so after that. Correctly balanced equation should have lowest possible integer coefficients. This is "only" a convention, however, you will often face this convention looking for thermodynamical data (for example think reaction quotient, think equilibrium constants). Thus it is better to avoid fractions in the final equations.

10. Sep 2, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

As good guess as every other

http://www.chembase.com/mf_C2H8N2O.htm [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
11. Sep 2, 2011

### jackmell

Sorry, didn't notice someone had answered it previously. Just saw it in the thread list and remined me once when I was in lab and a bunch of students I was teaching chemistry marched in and confronted me on the matter insisting a reaction couldn't be balanced.

12. Sep 3, 2011

### supernova1203

well using the help you guys have given me i have attempted to balance it again on the premise the 2CO2 is actually a CO

and voila!

2C2H3NO + H2O ----> C2H8N2O + 2CO

13. Sep 3, 2011

### jackmell

But does it make sense though? You studying chemistry right? Is that reaction reasonable? I don't know. Just seems to me sayin' it's CO just to make the problem easier is not really being a chemist. You won't be able to get away with that in your senior year. On what chemical grounds are you basing your decision? Maybe you need to research it. All else fails, well you got a lab right? Just be careful.

14. Sep 3, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Please reread the earlier discussion. We pointed supernova to the modifications of the original equation that allow it to be balanced. There in obvious problem with the original question, these modifications at least allow supernova to train balancing skills.

15. Sep 3, 2011

### jackmell

You're right. Sorry.

16. Sep 3, 2011

### Ygggdrasil

17. Sep 4, 2011

### supernova1203

hm... yes the question asked me to balance part of the reaction that took place at the bhopal plant incident, so you would be correct i think, either case the original equation is a typo in the book

Ill post some attachements for further clarification :)

hopefully this will shed some more light on the matter :)

the 2nd attachment has the original equation i posted earlier, which turned out to be weird, after a bit of work and help from members we figured the equation was off probably a typo(there are many in my book), so i changed the euqation and balanced it, in previous posts in this thread

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Last edited: Sep 4, 2011