Question #72394

Jan 5, 2015

The answer is $C {H}_{1.35} O$.

The first step in determining Vitamin C's empirical formula is to divide each element's percentage by its atomic mass:

$\text{For C} : \frac{40.9}{12.0} = 3.41$

$\text{For H} : \frac{4.60}{1.00} = 4.60$

$\text{For O:} \frac{54.5}{16.0} = 3.41$

You then divide each of these numbers by the smallest one to get the ratios of the three elements in the molecule:

$\text{For C} : \frac{3.41}{3.41} = 1$

$\text{For H} : \frac{4.60}{3.41} = 1.35$

$\text{For O:} \frac{3.41}{3.41} = 1$

Therefore, your empirical formula looks like this:

${C}_{1} {H}_{1.35} {O}_{1}$, or $C {H}_{1.35} O$.