Why are unbalanced equations important?

1 Answer
Dec 19, 2017



... assuming that you actually meant unbalanced equations and not balanced equations, I would say that unbalanced equations are important because they help you identify the reactants and the products.

You can use an unbalanced chemical equation to show the substances that react, i.e. the reactants, and the substances that are produced by a chemical reaction, i.e. the products.

For example, let' say that you want to write an unbalanced chemical equation to describe the reaction between sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid.

This neutralization reaction produces aqueous sodium sulfate and water, so you can say that you have

#"H"_ 2"SO"_ (4(aq)) + "NaOH"_ ((aq)) -> "Na"_ 2"SO"_ (4(aq)) + "H"_ 2"O"_ ((l))#

This unbalanced chemical equation shows what substances are the reactants and what substances are the products.

However, in order for this chemical equation to be of any use to us, we need to balance it, i.e. to ensure that all the atoms that are present on the reactants' side are also present on the products' side.

In this case, the balanced chemical equation that describes this reaction looks like this

#"H"_ 2"SO"_ (4(aq)) + color(red)(2)"NaOH"_ ((aq)) -> "Na"_ 2"SO"_ (4(aq)) + color(blue)(2)"H"_ 2"O"_ ((l))#

This tells us that when this reaction takes place, #1# mole of sulfuric acid reacts with #color(red)(2)# moles of sodium hydroxide to produce #1# mole of aqueous sodium sulfate and #color(blue)(2)# moles of water.

So you could say that unbalanced chemical equations are important, but balanced chemical equations are absolutely vital!