# How does mass balance apply in a chemical equation?

Mar 10, 2016

By the principle of conservation of mass: GARBAGE IN EQUALS GARBAGE OUT.

#### Explanation:

Mass is CONSERVED in every chemical reaction. If I start with 10 g of reactant (from all sources) AT MOST I can get 10 g of product; in practice, I can't even get that; I am going to lose something on handling.

Because elements and compounds have definite masses, their products on reaction are going to have those same masses.

Let's take a simple example, the combustion of methane, on which our industrial society depends:

$C {H}_{4} \left(g\right) + 2 {O}_{2} \left(g\right) \rightarrow C {O}_{2} \left(g\right) + 2 {H}_{2} O \left(g\right)$

This balanced equation says in fact that 16 g of methane gas reacts with 64 g dioxygen gas to give 44 g of carbon dioxide gas and 36 g water vapour. (From where am I getting these numbers?) The mass of the products is PRECISELY EQUAL to the mass of the reactants. If the masses were not equal, I would know that I have made an error in my arithmetic, and would have to try again.

Every chemical reaction ever performed is known to follow the principle of conservation of mass; which is, I suppose, why educators insist that chemical equations be stoichiometrically balanced. $\text{Stoichiometry}$ is a fancy way of saying $\text{balanced}$ or $\text{in the right measure}$. Stoichiometry also applies to the banking and finance industries: for every credit to someone's account, there must be a corresponding debit to someone else's account. If there is not, then someone (the bank or you) has made a mistake. A banker or an accountant would not disagree with what I have said.