Which of the following stoichiometric properties must be accounted for when balancing a reaction?
I. Number of atoms
a) I only
b) III only
c) I and II only
d) I and III only
Let’s go over the convention for writing chemical equations. Consider the following two chemical equations:
4 Fe(s) + 3 O2 (g) → 2 Fe2O3 (s)
3 H2(g) + 1 N2 (g) → 2 NH3 (g)
There are four basic components in any chemical equation. The first component is the directionality of the reactions, given by the arrow pointing from left to right. This indicates that the compounds on the left side of the reaction are our reactants, and the compounds on the right side are our products. While notation is traditionally shown this way, with the reactants on the left, note that an arrow can also point forward and backward together, indicating a reversible reaction.
The second component is the identity of the atoms themselves, in this case the reactants iron and oxygen on top and hydrogen and nitrogen on the bottom reaction, and the products ferric oxide and ammonia.
Each substance is also denoted by the third component, the phase state, given in the parenthetical as a gas (g), solid (s), liquid (l), or aqueous solution (aq).
The final component is the coefficient or the number before each compound. This represents the relative, or stoichiometric, ratio of each compound to the others in the reaction. In the case of our first reaction, for example, the coefficients tell us that for every four moles of iron and three moles of oxygen that react, two moles of ferric oxide will be produced. Note that most often a reactant or product with a coefficient of 1, such as nitrogen in our second reaction, will instead be left blank, with no coefficient shown.