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I need help balancing this equation

  1. Sep 20, 2013 #1
    I know this is elementary stuff, but I'm in Gen Chem 1 and this is the only thing I am having trouble with. I am fine balancing most equations, but when there are odd numbers of certain elements I get sort of confused. For example:

    C2H6 + O2 [itex]\rightarrow[/itex] CO2 + H2O


    3. The attempt at a solution

    I have tried several times, but the closest I could get was:

    2C2H6 + 5O2 [itex]\rightarrow[/itex] 2CO2 + 6H2O

    It is the Oxygen andHydrogen being uneven that is screwing me up. Right away I realize I have 3 Oxygen on the right and 2 on the left, so the first thing I tried to do was make both sides have 6 oxygen...

    C2H6 + 3O2 [itex]\rightarrow[/itex] CO2 + 4H2O

    But then that leaves me with 8 Hydrogen on the right, and only 6 on the left...I can't think of any ways to get that 6 to equal 8! Then I tried for 12 Oxygen on both sides instead of 6...then my problem is still Hydrogen.

    So maybe y'all see what I'm confused about...like I said, this is the only thing I am having trouble with so far in Gen Chem is balancing this specific type of equation, and we have our first test on Tuesday! So hopefully someone can help :)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 20, 2013 #2

    Borek

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    Staff: Mentor

    Let's start with 1 molecule of C2H6. It is obvious we will produce two CO2 and three H2O:

    C2H6 + xO2 → 2CO2 + 3H2O

    Can you find x? It will be a fraction now - but you can multiply everything by some small integer to get rid of the denominator...
     
  4. Sep 20, 2013 #3
    It would be 3[itex]\frac{1}{2}[/itex], yes? So I should then multiply by a small integer to get rid of denom, multiply all by 2? Does that include the 3.5?
     
  5. Sep 20, 2013 #4

    Borek

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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, multiply 3.5 as well.
     
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