How do you balance this equation: #?Zn + ?H_2SO_4 -> ?ZnSO_4 + H_2#

1 Answer
Jan 9, 2017

Answer:

#"Zn" + "H"_2"SO"_4 → "ZnSO"_4 +"H"_2#

Explanation:

You follow a systematic procedure to balance the equation.

Start with the unbalanced equation:

#"Zn" + "H"_2"SO"_4 → "ZnSO"_4 +"H"_2#

A method that often works is first to balance everything other than #"O"# and #"H"#, then balance #"O"#, and finally balance #"H"#.

Another useful procedure is to start with what looks like the most complicated formula.

The most complicated formula looks like #"ZnSO"_4#. We put a 1 in front of it to remind ourselves that the number is now fixed.

We start with

#"Zn" + "H"_2"SO"_4 → color(red)(1)"ZnSO"_4 +"H"_2#

Balance #"Zn"#:

We have #"1 Zn"# on the right, so we need #"1 Zn"# on the left. We put a 1 in front of the #"Zn"#.

#color(blue)(1)"Zn" + "H"_2"SO"_4 → color(red)(1)"ZnSO"_4 +"H"_2#

Balance #"S"#:

We have fixed #"1 S"# on the right. We need #"1 S"# on the left. Put a 1 in front of #"H"_2"SO"_4#.

#color(blue)(1)"Zn" + color(orange)(1)"H"_2"SO"_4 → color(red)(1)"ZnSO"_4 +"H"_2#

Balance #"O"#:

Done.

Balance #"H"#:

We have fixed #"2 H"# on the left, so we need #"2 H"# on the right. Put a 1 in front of #"H"_2#.

#color(blue)(1)"Zn" + color(orange)(1)"H"_2"SO"_4 → color(red)(1)"ZnSO"_4 + color(purple)(1)"H"_2#

Every formula now has a coefficient. We should have a balanced equation.

Let's check.

#bb("Atom" color(white)(m)"lhs"color(white)(m)"rhs")#
#color(white)(m)"Zn"color(white)(mml)1color(white)(mml)1#
#color(white)(m)"H"color(white)(mmll)2color(white)(mml)2#
#color(white)(m)"S"color(white)(mmm)1color(white)(mml)1#
#color(white)(m)"O"color(white)(mmll)4color(white)(mml)4#

All atoms balance. The balanced equation is

#"Zn" + "H"_2"SO"_4 →"ZnSO"_4 + "H"_2"SO"_4#