CHEMICALC: the Chemist’s Calculator!
Welcome to CHEMiCALC© in Java
Author: Al Heezen and Bert Ramsay

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Checking and Balancing Chemical Equations

To write a chemical equation, you need to separate the formulas of the reactants and products from each other using a + sign; and the reactants from the products with a => sign. Here is the reaction of methane with oxygen to form carbon dioxide and water:

(Note: CHEMiCALC will not predict the products of a reaction.) To check to see if the equation is balanced, click on the button.

In this case, the element count for the reactants and products is shown in “condensed” formulas of each. Out of balance elements are shown in the “Error Term” box. (In this reaction, the reactants contain 2 more hydrogen atoms than in the products; but 1 less oxygen.) To see if the equation can be balanced, click on the button.

The Java applet displays the balanced equation, and indicates that there is only one possible solution. Not all chemical equations can be balanced – among other things, you have to be sure to include all of the reactants and products.

To see an equation that has more than one solution, enter the reaction of methane with oxygen to produce both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and click the button:

After clicking the button, you will see

This is a complete set of solutions in the sense that any other solution would have to be a combination of these two. In a real life situation, you would almost certainly have a mixture of the two reactions.

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