How would you calculate the empirical formula of acetic acid (CH3COOH)?

1 Answer
Nov 12, 2015

Answer:

You would divide the numbers of each atom in the molecular formula by their highest common factor.

Explanation:

The empirical formula is the simplest possible formula for a compound.

The subscripts of the elements in the empirical formula must be in the smallest possible ratio.

We can write the molecular formula #"CH"_3"COOH"# as #"C"_2"H"_4"O"_2#.

The ratios of #"C:H:O"# are #2:4:2#.

The highest common factor of #2# and #4# is #2#.

We can divide each of these numbers by #2# to get the ratio

#"C:H:O" = 1:2:1#

The empirical formula of acetic acid is then #"CH"_2"O"#.