When balancing an equation, the reactants must equal the products (# of atoms) according to the Law of Conservation of Mass.
Conservation of mass
A chemical equation is the symbolic representation of a chemical reaction wherein the reactant entities are given on the left-hand side and the product entities on the right-hand side. The coefficients next to the symbols and formulae of entities are the absolute values of the stoichiometric numbers. The first chemical equation was diagrammed by Jean Beguin in 1615.
The law of conservation of mass, or principle of mass conservation, states that for any system closed to all transfers of matter and energy (both of which have mass), the mass of the system must remain constant over time, as system mass cannot change quantity if it is not added or removed. Hence, the quantity of mass is "conserved" over time. The law implies that mass can neither be created nor destroyed, although it may be rearranged in space, or the entities associated with it may be changed in form, as for example when light or physical work is transformed into particles that contribute the same mass to the system as the light or work had contributed. The law implies (requires) that during any chemical reaction, nuclear reaction, or radioactive decay in an isolated system, the total mass of the reactants or starting materials must be equal to the mass of the products.
The concept of mass conservation is widely used in many fields such as chemistry, mechanics, and fluid dynamics. Historically, mass conservation was discovered in chemical reactions by Antoine Lavoisier in the late 18th century, and was of crucial importance in the progress from alchemy to the modern natural science of chemistry.
An element-reaction-product table is used to find coefficients while balancing an equation representing a chemical reaction. Coefficients represent moles of a substance so that the amount of atoms produced is equal to the amount of atoms being reacted with. This is the common setup:
The layout should eventually look like this, for a balanced reaction of baking soda and vinegar (HC2H3O2 + NaHCO3 = NaC2H3O2 + H2CO3)
In a chemical reaction, chemical equilibrium is the state in which both reactants and products are present at concentrations which have no further tendency to change with time. Usually, this state results when the forward reaction proceeds at the same rate as the reverse reaction. The reaction rates of the forward and backward reactions are generally not zero, but equal. Thus, there are no net changes in the concentrations of the reactant(s) and product(s). Such a state is known as dynamic equilibrium.
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