Why is it important to balance chemical equations?

1 Answer
May 2, 2016

Because it illustrates the conservation of mass. In every chemical reaction, MASS is demonstrably conserved.


What do I mean by conservation?

Well, if I start with 10 g of reactant from all sources, AT MOST I can get 10 g of product from all sources. In practice, I am not even going to get that, because inevitably there is a small or large mass loss on handling. Conservation of mass has been observed in every chemical reaction. This is why educators insist that equations be properly balanced, and why the concept of stoichiometry, #"Garbage in equal garbage out"#, is introduced to students relatively early.

Mass balance thus underlies our concept of reaction chemistry, particles rearrange in a chemical reaction, but the starting mass of the particles is necessarily conserved.

Now it is a given that mass is conserved in a chemical reaction; is it also observed in a nuclear reaction? Why or why not?

Can we use stoichiometry in another context? For instance, in banking or finance; how?