# Can you put a higher reaction coefficient when balancing equations?

## For example, for $S {O}_{2} + {O}_{2} \to S {O}_{3}$ the balanced equation is $2 S {O}_{2} + {O}_{2} \to 2 S {O}_{3}$ but can it also be $4 S {O}_{2} + {O}_{2} \to 4 S {O}_{3}$ ?

Oct 6, 2017

Well we usually use the simplest whole number ratio.....

#### Explanation:

And thus we want....

$2 S {O}_{2} + {O}_{2} \left(g\right) \rightarrow 2 S {O}_{3} \left(g\right)$

But $4 S {O}_{2} + {O}_{2} \left(g\right) \rightarrow 4 S {O}_{3} \left(g\right)$ IS CLEARLY unbalanced with respect to oxygen....Do you agree? And thus this cannot be accepted as a representation of chemical reality.

Some chemists like to introduce half-integral coefficients into the equation.

$S {O}_{2} \left(g\right) + \frac{1}{2} {O}_{2} \rightarrow S {O}_{3} \left(g\right)$

Here, I find that the half-integral coefficient makes assessment of the stoichiometry, the arithmetic, a bit easier. Every stoichiometric equation MUST be absolutely balanced with respect to mass and charge.

Oct 7, 2017

Yes, you can put all the reaction coefficient higher.

So, "...can it also be 4SO_2 + O_2 → 4SO_3?"

No, it can't because the equation is not balanced respect to oxygen.

#### Explanation:

Once you have correctly balanced the equation:

2SO_2 + O_2 → 2SO_3

you can use any multiple of all coefficients, as in:

4SO_2 + 2 O_2 → 4SO_3, or in:
6SO_2 + 3 O_2 → 6SO_3, etc.

given that the equation remains balanced.