How do balanced chemical equations relate to the law of mass conservation?

Introduction to chemical reactions

When any substance completely changes into another one, we say that a chemical reaction has occurred. Whether it’s the leaves changing their colours from green to yellow, or wood-burning into coal, everything that’s undergoing any sort of change has to go through a detailed chemical reaction for sure in a chemical equation. 

Chemical equations

We study these chemical reactions in the form of chemical equations. A chemical equation shows which, how many, and by which means, the elements react together to form the end product. Thus, chemical equations are the visual and simplified representation of a chemical reaction. 

The reactants are combining to form the product in chemical reactions. Thus these reactants with certain compositions combine to form new molecules or compounds.

Related: Firstly, you should calculate the mole fraction of the reactants before the reaction. This mole ratio calculator helps to find the present amount of reactants and products obtained digitally. Having the known value of moles of the substances that combine to form a product can assist you in figuring out the percentage composition of the reactant for balance equations.

Consider a general combustion reaction in which methane burns in the presence of oxygen to form water vapours and carbon dioxide. Its balance chemical equation will be as follows

CH4 + 2O2 – – – > CO2 + 2H2O

Now, one can easily understand by seeing this chemical equation how natural gas burns and which reagents participate in the reaction. However, we cannot comprehend this reaction if the equation is not balanced. In that case, it would be nearly impossible to predict how many atoms of each element are taking part in the reaction or how the reaction proceeds. 

Balanced chemical equation

A balanced chemical equation possesses the same number of atoms of each element on both sides. For example, in the equation mentioned above, you can see there are four oxygen atoms, one carbon atom, and four hydrogen atoms on both the left-hand side and right-hand side. Thus, we can say the equation is balanced. 

But if you have an equation that has a different number of atoms on both sides, then you ed to balance it. There are certain steps you need to follow. These include the loss and gain of an atom to form molecules etc. But you may also concern with balancing chemical equations calculator. This will help you to balance your chemical equations easily with all the possible steps. These steps may help you to understand how we balance that equation.

Law of mass conservation and balanced chemical equation

Besides being helpful to understand the reaction, a chemical equation must be completely balanced because it is the law! The law of mass conservation clearly states that a matter could not be created nor could it be destroyed during any reaction. By following this universal law, the same quantity of matter should be present before and after the reaction. In other words, the mass of reactants must be equal to that of your end product. If not, then the reaction will not be practically feasible. That’s the reason scientists give so much importance to balanced chemical equations since they exhibit that the same quantity of mass has been conserved in the reaction_not No mass is removed or added from nowhere!

How did scientists come to know that mass could neither fluctuate during a chemical reaction?

A French scientist, Antoine Lavoisier performed a series of careful reactions in the 1700s. Before conducting each of those reactions, he carefully weighs the mass of products and reactants. Moreover, he also used a completely sealed tube as his apparatus. Whatever the reaction he performed, he observed that the total mass of the tube and the contents present in it remained the same before and after the reaction. 

It clarified that matter could neither be lost nor be gained during a chemical reaction unless someone is there to do so. And, that’s the same thing which we today know as the law of conservation of mass. During the same series of reactions, Lavoisier also discovered oxygen. 

Many people wonder why he used only the sealed tube or what would be the results if he hadn’t used an airtight apparatus?

Well, sealing the tube was crucial so whatever the product formed after the reaction did not escape due to being in a gaseous or vapour state. If any mass of the reacting mixture got lost by any means, the quantity of mass would also fluctuate before and after reactions. 

In other words, in the absence of a sealed tube, his research would end up at a point that the mass detected after was less than before the reaction. Resultantly, he couldn’t conclude that the mass remains conserved during reactions.

  • Chemical reactions occur when a substance gets convert into another substance due to a change in its chemical composition. These reactions can illustrate by chemical equations.
  • All types of equations may balance and obey the law of mass conservation. According to this law, no mass could be form or destroy on its own during the reaction.
  • Antoine Lavoisier was the first scientist who discovered this relationship between balanced chemical equations and the law of mass conservation by performing multiple reactions. He also discovered oxygen.