Stoichiometry is a concept in chemistry that describes the relationship between the amounts of substances involved in a chemical reaction.
These ratios appear as whole numbers before each substance in the equation, which can be adjusted to balance the equation. We can calculate these numbers by using masses found by experimentation.
To illustrate stoichiometry in action, let’s consider the reaction between sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl) to form sodium chloride (NaCl). Suppose that 46 g of sodium reacted with 71 g of chlorine to produce sodium chloride. We can use this information to balance the chemical equation.
First. we need to note the formulae of the substances involved in the reaction:
Next, we need to calculate the number of moles of each substance involved in the reaction. This can be done using the formula:
Number of moles = Mass (g) ÷ Relative atomic mass.
For sodium, the relative atomic mass is 23. Therefore, the number of moles of Na is:
46 g ÷ 23
Number of moles of Na = 2
For chlorine, the relative atomic mass is 35.5. Therefore, the number of moles of Cl2 is:
71 g ÷ (35.5 + 35.5)
Number of moles of Cl2 = 1
For sodium chloride, the relative atomic mass is (35.5 + 23) = 58.5. Therefore, the number of moles of NaCl is:
117 g ÷ 58.5
Number of moles of NaCl = 2
To balance the chemical equation, we need to ensure that the number of moles of each substance is in the lowest possible ratio. We do this by dividing all the numbers by the smallest value, which in this case is 1 (the number of moles of Cl2). Therefore:
Now that we have the correct number of moles for each substance, we can write the balanced chemical equation:
Na + Cl2 ⟶ 2NaCl
This equation shows that two moles of sodium react with one mole of chlorine to produce two moles of sodium chloride. The balanced equation ensures that the law of conservation of mass is upheld, which states that the total mass of the reactants must be equal to the total mass of the products in a chemical reaction.