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For any reaction, what you start with are called the reactants, and what you for

m are called the products.


So any chemical equation shows in some way the overall chemical change of .
..
REACTANTS ==> PRODUCTS, which can be written in words or symbols/formulae.
It is most important you read about formula in an earlier section of this page.
In the equations outlined below several things have been deliberately simplified
. This is to allow the 'starter' chemistry student to concentrate on understandi
ng formulae and balancing chemical equations. Some teachers may disagree with th
is approach BUT my simplifications are:
The word 'molecule' is sometimes loosely used to mean a 'formula'.
The real 3D shape of the 'molecule' and the 'relative size' of the different
element atoms is ignored.
If the compound is ionic, the ion structure and charge is ignored, its just
treated as a 'formula'.

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3.1b Chemical word equations
==> means the direction of change from reactants == to ==> products
No symbols or numbers are used in word equations.
Always try to fit all the words neatly lined up from left to right, especially i
f its a long word equation.

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3.1c Balancing Symbol equations
Writing the correct symbol or formula for each equation component.
Numbers in a formula are written as subscripts after the number of atoms of
the element concerned
e.g. H2SO4 means 2 H's, 1 S and 4 O's
or the subscript number can double, treble etc. a part of the formula
e.g. Ca(OH)2 means 1 Ca and 2 OH's (or 2 O's and 2 H's in total)
Numbers before a formula double or treble it etc.
e.g. 2NaCl means 2 Na's and 2 Cl's in total
or 2H2SO4 means 2 x H2SO4 = 4 H's, 2 S's and 8 O's in total of 2 H2's and 2
SO4's
Its quite handy to think in different ways to balance an equation, but ultim
ately, and the most logically, its all about counting atoms correctly and making

sure you have the same number of atoms of each element on each side of the equa
tions BUT this only works if all the chemical formulae are correct in the equati
on!
If the number is 1 itself, by convention, no number is shown in a formula or
before a formula.
Using numbers if necessary to balance the equation, this is a matter of 'trial a
nd error'.
If you seem deficient on one side of the equation in terms of a particular a
tom (element), you may need to increase a balancing number on the other side of
the equation.
Also, you must use the smallest possible whole numbers (integers) to balance
an equation, its best to avoid half-numbers if you can. dealing in half-molecul
es may seem a bit strange!
If all is correct, then the sum of atoms for each element should be the same on
both side of the equation arrow .....
in other words: atoms of products = atoms of reactants
This is a chemical conservation law of atoms and later it may be describ
ed as the 'law of conservation of mass'.
the 7 equations are first presented in 'picture' style and then written
out fully with state symbols
The individual formulas involved and the word equations will be been pre
sented in the examples below.
NEVER alter a formula to balance an equation! BUT use the CORRECT FORMULA and on
ly put NUMBERS BEFORE THE FORMULA if needed to balance the number of atoms to ba
lance the equation.
PRACTICE QUESTIONS - on words and symbol equations (on other web pages)
Multiple choice quiz on balancing numbers
Balancing number/formula-fill exercises
Reactions of acids with metals, oxides, hydroxides, carbonates and ammonia.
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3.1d EXAMPLES of CONSTRUCTING WORD or SYMBOL EQUATIONS
Remember from the 'Law of Conservation of Mass' the mass of products = mass of o
riginal reactants, which means that the number of atoms of each element in the r
eactants must be equal to those in the products and that is the basis of writing
a correctly balanced symbol equation, BUT don't forget, you must write the corr
ect formula for each species in the equation, otherwise you may write a correctl
y balanced equation which is totally wrong! so beware!
Balancing equations example 3.1d(1)
A single symbol means an uncombined single atom of the element,(c) doc b or Fe 1
atom of iron,(c) doc b or S 1 atom of sulphur (2Fe would mean two atoms, 5S wou
ld mean five sulphur atoms etc.)

(c) doc b or the formula FeS means one atom of iron is chemically combined with
1 atom of sulphur to form the compound called iron sulphide
iron + sulphur ==> iron sulphide
(c) doc b
on average one atom of iron chemically combines with one atom of iron forming on
e molecule of iron sulphide
two elements chemically combining to form a new compound
Fe + S ==> FeS
Fe(s) + S(s) ==> FeS(s)

(with state symbols)

Atom balancing, sum left = sum right: 1Fe + 1S = (1Fe combined with 1S)
There is no need for any balancing numbers in this equation
For a balanced equation on both sides of the equation you should have 1 iron ato
m and 1 sulfur atom combined in their particular way in the reactants or product
s
All the reactants (what you start with) and all the products (what is formed) ar
e all solids in this case.
When first learning symbol equations you probably won't use state symbols like (
s) at first (see end note).
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Balancing equations example 3.1d(2)
(c) doc b or the formula NaOH means 1 atom of sodium is combined with 1 atom of
oxygen and 1 atom of hydrogen to form the compound called sodium hydroxide
(c) doc b or the formula HCl means 1 atom of hydrogen is combined with 1 atom of
chlorine to form 1 molecule of the compound called hydrochloric acid
(c) doc b or the formula NaCl means 1 atom of sodium are combined with 1 atom ch
lorine to form the compound called sodium chloride
(c) doc b or the formula H2O means 2 atoms of hydrogen are chemically combined w
ith 1 atom of oxygen to form the compound called water.
sodium hydroxide + hydrochloric acid ==> sodium chloride + water
(c) doc b
the reactants are one molecule of sodium hydroxide and one molecule of hydrochlo
ric acid
the products are one molecule of sodium chloride and one molecule of water
all chemicals involved are compounds
NaOH + HCl ==> NaCl + H2O

NaOH(aq) + HCl(aq) ==> NaCl(aq) + H2O(l)

(with state symbols)

atom balancing, sum left = right: (1Na + 1O + 1H) + (1H + 1Cl) = (1Na + 1Cl) + (
2H + 1O)
For a balanced equation on both sides of the equation you should have 1 sodium a
tom, 1 oxygen atom, 1 chlorine atom and 2 hydrogen atoms combined in their parti
cular way in the reactants or products.
There is no need for any balancing numbers in this equation
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Balancing equations example 3.1d(3)
(c) doc b or the symbol Mg means 1 atom of the element called magnesium
(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b or 2HCl means two separate molecules of the compound
called hydrochloric acid (see example 2)
(c) doc b or the formula MgCl2 means 1 formula of the compound called magnesium
chloride, made of one atom of magnesium and two atoms of chlorine.
(c) doc b or the formula H2 means 1 molecule of the element called hydrogen made
up of two joined hydrogen atoms
magnesium + hydrochloric acid ==> magnesium chloride + hydrogen
(c) doc b
one atom of magnesium reacts with two molecules of hydrochloric acid
the products are one molecule of magnesium chloride and one molecule of hydrogen
Mg and H-H are elements, H-Cl and Cl-Mg-Cl are compounds
Mg + 2HCl ==> MgCl2 + H2
Mg(s) + 2HCl(aq) ==> MgCl2(aq) + H2(g)

(with state symbols)

atom balancing, sum left = right: (1Mg) + 2 x (1H + 1Cl) = (1Mg + 2Cl) + (2H)
For a balanced equation on both sides of the equation you
m atom, 2 hydrogen atoms and 2 chlorine atoms combined in
n the reactants or products. You can only get the balance
front of the HCl formula because you need 2 Cl's to make

should have 1 magnesiu


their particular way i
here by putting a 2 in
the MgCl2.

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Balancing equations example 3.1d(4)
(c) doc b or the formula CuCO3 means one formula of the compound called copper c
arbonate, made up of one atom of copper is combined with one atom of carbon and
three atoms of oxygen to form the compound copper carbonate
(c) doc b or the formula H2SO4 means one formula of the compound called sulphuri
c acid, which is made up of two atoms of hydrogen, one atom of sulphur and four
atoms of oxygen
(c) doc b or the formula CuSO4 means one formula of the compound called copper s

ulphate which is made up of one atom of copper, one atom of sulphur and four ato
ms of oxygen
H2O (example 2)
(c) doc b or the formula CO2 means one molecule of the compound called carbon di
oxide which is a chemical combination of one atom of carbon and two atoms of oxy
gen.
copper carbonate + sulphuric acid ==> copper sulphate + water + carbon dioxi
de
(c) doc b
the reactants are one formula of copper carbonate and one molecule of sulphuric
acid
the products are one formula of copper sulphate, one molecule of water and one m
olecule of carbon dioxide
all molecules are compounds in this reaction
CuCO3 + H2SO4 ==> CuSO4 + H2O + CO2
CuCO3(s) + H2SO4(aq) ==> CuSO4(aq) + H2O(l) + CO2(g) (with state symbols)
balancing sum left = sum right: (1Cu + 1C + 3O) + (2H + 1S + 4O) = (1Cu + 1S + 4
O) + (2H + 1O) + (1C + 2O)
For a balanced equation on both sides of the equation you should have 1 copper
atom, 1 carbon atom, 7 oxygen atoms, 2 hydrogen atoms, 1 sulphur atom combined i
n their particular way in the reactants or products
There is no need for any balancing numbers in this equation
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Balancing equations example 3.1d(5)
(c) doc b or the formula CH4 means one molecule of the compound called methane w
hich is made of one atom of carbon combined with four atoms of hydrogen
(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b or 2O2 means two separate molecules of the element c
alled oxygen, and each oxygen molecule consists of two atoms of oxygen
CO2 (see also example 4)
(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b or 2H2O means two separate molecules of the compound
called water (see also example 2)
methane + oxygen ==> carbon dioxide + water
(c) doc b
Using displayed formula the equation would look like this ...
... in which every individual atom is shown and how it is bonded ('connected') w
ith other atoms in the molecule. All the dashes represent the covalent bonds bet
ween the atoms in the molecules.

one molecule of methane is completely burned by two molecules of oxygen


to form one molecule of carbon dioxide and two molecules of water
CH4 + 2O2 ==> CO2 + 2H2O
CH4(g) + 2O2(g) ==> CO2(g) + 2H2O(l)

(with state symbols)

atom balancing, sum left = sum right: (1C + 4H) + 2 x (2O) = (1C + 2O) + 2 x (2H
+ 1O)
For a balanced equation on both sides of the equation you should have 1 carbon a
tom, 4 hydrogen atoms, 4 oxygen atoms combined in their particular way in the re
actants or products.
You can only get this to balance by having a 2 in front of the O2 and 2 in front
of the CO2, you need an O2 to make CO2 and another O2 to convert the H4 into 2H
2O
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Balancing equations example 3.1d(6)
(c) doc b or the formula Mg(OH)2 is the compound magnesium hydroxide made up of
one magnesium, two oxygen and two hydrogen atoms BUT the OH is a particular comb
ination called hydroxide within a compound, so it is best to think of this comp
ound as a combination of an Mg and two OH's, hence the use of the ( ). The subsc
ripted 2 doubles everything in the brackets.
(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b or 2HNO3 means two separate molecules of the compoun
d nitric acid, each molecule is made up of one hydrogen atom, one nitrogen atom
and three oxygen atoms.
(c) doc b or the formula Mg(NO3)2 is the compound magnesium nitrate, it consists
of a magnesium (ion) and two 'nitrates' (ions), each nitrate consists of one ni
trogen and three oxygen atoms, again the nitrate is a particular combination of
atoms within a compound and hence the use of ( ) again.
(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b or 2H2O meaning two molecules of the compound water
(see also examples 2 and 5)
magnesium hydroxide + nitric acid ==> magnesium nitrate + water
(c) doc b
one formula of magnesium hydroxide reacts with two molecules of nitric acid to f
orm one formula of magnesium nitrate and two molecules of water (all compounds)
Mg(OH)2 + 2HNO3 ==> Mg(NO3)2 + 2H2O
Mg(OH)2(aq) + 2HNO3(aq) ==> Mg(NO3)2(aq) + 2H2O(l) (with state symbols)
atom balancing, sum left = sum right: (1Mg + 2O + 2H) + 2 x (1H + 1N + 3O) = (1M
g + 2N + 6O) + 2 x (2H + 1O)
For a balanced equation on both sides of the equation you should have 1 magnesiu
m atom, 8 oxygen atoms, 4 hydrogen atoms, 2 nitrogen atoms combined in their par
ticular way in the reactants or products
to balance this equation you need a 2 in front of the HNO3 and a 2 in front of t

he H2O, the 2s come from the 2 OH becoming 2 H2Os


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Balancing equations example 3.1d(7)
(c) doc b or the formula Al2O3 means one formula of the compound called aluminiu
m oxide, made up of two atoms of aluminium Al and three atoms of oxygen O
(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b or 3H2SO4 meaning three molecules
of the compound called sulphuric acid (see also example 4)
(c) doc b or the formula Al2(SO4)3 means one formula of the compound called alum
inium sulphate, it consists of two aluminium, three sulphur and twelve oxygen at
oms BUT the SO4 is a particular grouping called sulphate, so it is best to think
of the compound as a combination of two Al's and three SO4's
(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b(c) doc b or 3H2O means three separate molec
ules of the compound called water (see also examples 2 and 5)
aluminium oxide + sulphuric acid ==> aluminium sulphate + water
(c) doc b
one formula of aluminium oxide reacts with three molecules of sulphuric acid
to form one formula of aluminium sulphate and three molecules of water
note the first use of numbers (3) for the sulphuric acid and water!
so picture three of them in your head, otherwise the picture gets a bit big!
Al2O3 + 3H2SO4 ==> Al2(SO4)3 + 3H2O
Al2O3(s) + 3H2SO4(aq) ==> Al2(SO4)3(aq) + 3H2O(l)

(with state symbols)

atom balancing, sum left = sum right: (2Al + 3O) + 3 x (2H + 1S + 4O) = (2Al + 3
S + 12O) + 3 x (2H + 1O)
For a balanced equation on both sides of the equation you should have 2 aluminiu
m atoms, 15 oxygen atoms, 6 hydrogen atoms, 3 sulfur atoms combined in their par
ticular way in the reactants or products
This is quite an awkward equation to balance, a bit of real trial and error, but
two 3s in the right place will do it.
The best clue here is that you need 3 x SO4 for the aluminium sulfate, so you ne
ed 3 of the H2SO4
GCSE-AS-A2-IB note: Aluminium sulfate is actually an ionic compound (Al3+)2(SO42
-)3
topExtra NOTE 1 Reversible Reactions
The (c) doc b sign means a reversible reaction, it can be made to go the 'other
way' if the conditions are changed. Example:
nitrogen + hydrogen (c) doc b ammonia
N2(g) + 3H2(g) (c) doc b 2NH3(g)

(with state symbols)

balancing: 2 nitrogen's and 6 hydrogen's on both sides of equation


Extra NOTE 2 State Symbols
The use state symbols X(?) of reactants or products in equations, used to denote
the physical state of reactants and products
(g) means gas, (l) means liquid, (s) means solid
and (aq) means aqueous solution, which means the substance is dissolved in water
e.g. carbon dioxide gas CO2(g), liquid water H2O(l), solid sodium chloride 'salt
' NaCl(s)
and copper sulphate solution CuSO4(aq)
3.1e IONIC EQUATIONS (for higher GCSE and AS students)
What is an 'ionic equation'? How do we construct and write ionic equations?
In many reactions only certain ions change their 'chemical state' but other ions
remain in exactly the same original physical and chemical state.
The ions that do not change physically or chemically are called 'spectator ions'
.
The ionic equation represents the 'actual' chemical change and omits the spectat
or ions.
Five types of examples of ionic equations are presented below including neutrali
sation, salt precipitation and redox equations.
top(1) Acid-base reactions: Acids can be defined as proton donors. A base can be
defined as a proton acceptor.
e.g. any acid-alkali neutralisation involves the hydroxide ion is (base) and thi
s accepts a proton from an acid.
HCl(aq) + NaOH(aq) ==> NaCl(aq) + H2O(l) which can be re-written ionically a
s
H+Cl-(aq) + Na+OH-(aq) ==> Na+Cl-(aq) + H2O(l)
or: H+ + Cl-(aq) + Na+ + OH-(aq) ==> Na+ + Cl-(aq) + H2O(l)
H+(aq) + OH-(aq) ==> H2O(l) which is the ionic equation for neutralisation
the spectator ions are chloride Cl- and sodium Na+
top(2) Insoluble salt formation: An insoluble salt is made by mixing two solutio
ns of soluble compounds to form the insoluble compound in a process called 'prec
ipitation'. A precipitation reaction is generally defined as 'the formation of a
n insoluble solid on mixing two solutions or a bubbling a gas into a solution'.
(a) Silver chloride is made by mixing solutions of solutions of silver nitra
te and sodium chloride.
silver nitrate + sodium chloride ==> silver chloride + sodium nitrate
AgNO3(aq) + NaCl(aq) ==> AgCl(s) + NaNO3(aq)

in terms of ions it could be written as


Ag+NO3-(aq) + Na+Cl-(aq) ==> AgCl(s) + Na+NO3-(aq)
or: Ag+ + NO3-(aq) + Na+ + Cl-(aq) ==> AgCl(s) + Na+ + NO3-(aq)
but the spectator ions are nitrate NO3- and sodium Na+ which do not change a
t all,
so the ionic equation is simply: Ag+(aq) + Cl-(aq) ==> AgCl(s)
Note that ionic equations omit ions that do not change there chemical or
physical state.
In this case the nitrate (NO3-(aq)) and sodium (Na+(aq)) ions do not cha
nge physically or chemically and are called spectator ions,
BUT the aqueous silver ion, Ag+(aq), combines with the aqueous chloride
ion, Cl-(aq), to form the insoluble salt silver chloride, AgCl(s), thereby chang
ing their states both chemically and physically.
top(b) Lead(II) iodide, a yellow precipitate (insoluble in water!) can be made b
y mixing lead(II) nitrate solution with e.g. potassium iodide solution.
lead(II) nitrate + potassium iodide ==> lead(II) iodide + potassium nitrate
Pb(NO3)2(aq) + 2KI(aq) ==> PbI2(s) + 2KNO3(aq)
which can be written as
Pb2+(aq) + 2NO3-(aq) + 2K+(aq) + 2I-(aq) ==> PbI2(s) + 2K+(aq) + 2NO3-(aq)
the ionic equation is: Pb2+(aq) + 2I-(aq) ==> PbI2(s)
because the spectator ions are nitrate NO3- and potassium K+.
top(c) Calcium carbonate, a white precipitate, forms on e.g. mixing calcium chlo
ride and sodium carbonate solutions ...
calcium chloride + sodium carbonate ==> calcium carbonate + sodium chloride
CaCl2(aq) + Na2CO3(aq) ==> CaCO3(s) + 2NaCl(aq)
Ca2+(aq) + 2Cl-(aq) + 2Na+(aq) + CO32-(aq) ==> CaCO3(s) + 2Na+(aq) + 2Cl-(aq
)
ionically: Ca2+(aq) + CO32-(aq) ==> CaCO3(s)
because the spectator ions are chloride Cl- and sodium Na+.
top(d) Barium sulphate, a white precipitate, forms on mixing e.g. barium chlorid
e and dilute sulphuric acid ...
barium chloride + sulphuric acid ==> barium sulphate + hydrochloric acid
BaCl2(aq) + H2SO4(aq) ==> BaSO4(s) + 2HCl(aq)
Ba2+(aq) + 2Cl-(aq) + 2H+(aq) + SO42-(aq) ==> BaSO4(s) + 2H+(aq) + 2Cl-(aq)

ionic equation: Ba2+(aq) + SO42-(aq) ==> BaSO4(s)


because the spectator ions are chloride Cl- and hydrogen H+.
(3) Redox reaction analysis:
top(a) magnesium + iron(II) sulphate ==> magnesium sulphate + iron
Mg(s) + FeSO4(aq) ==> MgSO4(aq) + Fe(s)
this is the 'ordinary molecular' equation for a typical metal displacement r
eaction, but this does not really show what happens in terms of atoms, ions and
electrons, so we use ionic equations like the one shown below.
Mg(s) + Fe2+SO42-(aq) ==> Mg2+SO42-(aq) + Fe(s)
The sulphate ion SO42-(aq) is the spectator ion, because it doesn't change i
n the reaction and can be omitted from the ionic equation. No electrons show up
in the full equations because electrons lost by Mg must equal the electrons gain
ed by Fe.
so the ionic-redox equation is
Mg(s) + Fe2+(aq) ==> Mg2+(aq) + Fe(s)
Mg oxidised by electron loss, Fe2+ reduced by electron gain
top(b) zinc + hydrochloric acid ==> zinc chloride + hydrogen
Zn(s) + 2HCl(aq) ==> ZnCl2(aq) + H2(g)
Zn(s) + 2H+(aq) + 2Cl-(aq) ==> Zn2+(aq) + 2Cl-(aq) + H2(g)
the chloride ion Cl- is the spectator ion
Zn(s) + 2H+(aq) ==> Zn2+(aq) + H2(g)
Zinc atoms, Zn, oxidised by electron loss and hydrogen ions, H+, are reduced
by electron gain
top(c) copper + silver nitrate ==> silver + copper(II) nitrate
Cu(s) + 2AgNO3(aq) ==> 2Ag + Cu(NO3)2(aq)
the nitrate ion NO3- is the spectator ion
Cu(s) + 2Ag+(aq) ==> 2Ag(s) + Cu2+(aq)
Cu oxidised by electron loss, Ag+ reduced by electron gain
top(d) halogen (more reactive) + halide salt (of less reactive halogen) ==> hali
de salt (of more reactive halogen) + halogen (less reactive)
X2(aq) + 2K+Y(aq) ==> 2K+X(aq) + Y2(aq)
X2(aq) + 2Y-(aq) ==> 2X-(aq) + Y2(aq)
the potassium ion K+ is the spectator ion
halogen X is more reactive than halogen Y, F > Cl > Br > I)

X is the oxidising agent (electron acceptor, so is reduced)


KY or Y- is the reducing agent (electron donor, so is oxidised)
top(4) Ion Exchange Resins: Ion exchange polymer resin columns hold hydrogen ion
s or sodium ions. These can be replaced by calcium and magnesium ions when hard
water passes down the column. The calcium or magnesium ions are held on the nega
tively charged resin. The freed hydrogen or sodium ions do not form a scum with
soap.
e.g. 2[resin]-H+(s) + Ca2+(aq) ==> [resin]-Ca2+[resin]-(s) + 2H+(aq)
or 2[resin]-Na+(s) + Mg2+(aq) ==> [resin]-Mg2+[resin]-(s) + 2Na+(aq) etc.
(5) Scum formation with hard water: On mixing hard water with soaps made fro
m the sodium salts of fatty acids, insoluble calcium or magnesium salts of the s
oap are formed as a grey precipitate ...
CaSO4(aq) + 2C17H35COONa(aq) ==> (C17H35COO)2Ca(s for scum!) + Na2SO4(aq)
or more simply ionically: Ca2+(aq) + 2C17H35COO-(aq) ==> (C17H35COO-)2Ca2+(s
)
the spectator ions are SO42- and Na+
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3.2 VALENCY - COMBINING POWER - FORMULA DEDUCTION
3.2a Introduction
What is valency? How do you use valency to work out the formula of a compound?
The valency of an atom or group of atoms is its numerical combining power with o
ther atoms or groups of atoms.
i.e. its numerical capacity to combine with other atoms.
The theory behind this, is all about stable electron structures!
The combining power or valency is related to the number of outer electrons.
You need to consult the page on "Bonding" to get the electronic background.
A group of atoms, which is part of a formula, with a definite composition, is so
metimes referred to as a radical.
In the case of ions, the charge on the ion is its valency or combining power (li
st below).
To work out a formula by combining 'A' with 'B' the rule is:
number of atom 'A' x valency of 'A' = number of atom 'B' x valency of 'B',
However it is easier perhaps? to grasp with ionic compound formulae.
In the electrically balanced stable formula, the total positive ionic charge
must equal the total negative ionic charge.
number of ion 'A' x charge of ion 'A' = number of ion 'B' x charge of io

n 'B' (you ignore charge sign)


Example: As difficult an example as any you will have to work out!
Aluminium oxide consists of aluminium ions Al3+ and oxide ions O2number of Al3+ x charge on Al3+ = number of O2- x charge on O2the simplest numbers are 2 of Al3+ x 3 = 3 of O2- x 2 (total 6+ balances to
tal 6-)
so the simplest whole number formula for aluminium oxide is Al2O3
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table of ions, names and symbols (c) doc b3.2b Examples of COVALENT and IONIC CO
MPOUND FORMULAE
Selected combining power of ions (table left) valency = numerical ion charge val
ue and examples of covalent combining power of atoms ie valencies (selection bel
ow).
Hydrogen H (1)
Chlorine Cl and other halogens (1)
Oxygen O and sulphur S (2)
Boron B and aluminium Al (3)
Nitrogen (3, 4, 5)
Carbon C and silicon Si (4)
Phosphorus (P 3,5)
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3.2c Examples
'A' (valency)
1 of carbon C
1 of nitrogen
1 of carbon C

of working out covalent formulae


'B' (valency) deduced formula of A +
(4)
balances 4 of hydrogen H (1)
(3)
balances 3 of chlorine Cl (1)
(4)
balances 2 of oxygen O (2)

B
1 x 4 = 4 x 1 = CH4
1 x 3 = 3 x 1 = NCl3
1 x 4 = 2 x 2 = CO2

(c) doc b
The diagram on the left illustrates the three covalent examples above fo
r
methane CH4
nitrogen trichloride NCl3
carbon dioxide CO2
6 more examples of working out an ionic formula
numerically charge = valency of A or B to deduce the formula
valency or ionic charge = the combining power of the ion

'molecular' or ionic style of formula and compound name


1 of K+ balances 1 of Br- because 1 x 1 = 1 x 1 gives KBr or K+Br- potassium br
omide
2 of Na+ balances 1 of O2- because 2 x 1 = 1 x 2 gives Na2O or (Na+)2O2- sodium
oxide
1 of Mg2+ balances 2 of Cl- because 1 x 2 = 2 x 1 gives MgCl2 or Mg2+(Cl-)2 mag
nesium chloride
1 of Fe3+ balances 3 of F- because 1 x 3 = 3 x 1 gives FeF3 or Fe3+(F-)3 iron
(III) fluoride
1 of Ca2+ balances 2 of NO3- because 1 x 2 = 2 x 1 gives Ca(NO3)2 or Ca2+(NO3-)2
calcium nitrate
2 of Fe3+ balances 3 of SO42- because 2 x 3 = 3 x 2 gives Fe2(SO4)3 or (Fe3+)2(S
O42-)3 iron(III) sulphate
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3.3 KS3-GCSE note on naming compounds
When combined with other elements in simple compounds the name of the non-metall
ic element changes slightly from ...??? to ...ide.
Sulphur forms a sulphide (ion S2-), oxygen forms an oxide (ion O2-), fluorine fo
rms a fluoride (ion F-), chlorine forms a chloride (ion Cl-), bromine a bromide
(ion Br-) and iodine an iodide (ion I-).
The other element at the start of the compound name e.g. hydrogen or a metal lik
e sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc. usually remains unchanged in simpl
e compounds at KS3-GCSE level.
So typical compound names are, sodium sulphide, hydrogen sulphide, magnesium oxi
de, potassium fluoride, hydrogen chloride, sodium chloride, calcium bromide, mag
nesium iodide etc.
However, even at GCSE level the complications will arise e.g.
(i) Where an element can form two different compounds with different formula
e with the same element there needs to be a way of expressing it in the name as
well as in the formula e.g.
iron(II) chloride, FeCl2 and iron(III) chloride, FeCl3
copper(I) oxide, Cu2O and copper(II) oxide, CuO
Hear chlorine has a combining power of 1 (valency 1) and oxygen 2 in bot
h compounds.
However, iron can have a valency of 2 or 3 and copper 1 or 2 and these a
lso correspond numerically to the charge on the metal ions in such compounds e.g
. Fe2+ and Fe3+, Cu+ and Cu2+.
Therefore the 'Roman numerals' number in () gives the valency of the ele
ment in that particular compound. At a higher academic level this is known as th
e oxidation state.
(ii) When the non-metal is combined with oxygen to form a negative ion (anio
n) ion which combines with a positive ion (cation) from hydrogen or a metal, the
n the end of the 2nd part of the name ends in ...ate or ...ite e.g.

NO3 in a compound formula is nitrate e.g. KNO3, potassium nitrate.


SO3 in a formula is sulphite, e.g. Na2SO3, sodium sulphite,
SO4 is sulphate, e.g. MgSO4, magnesium sulphate,
PO4 is phosphate, e.g. Na2HPO4, disodium hydrogen phosphate