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Balancing Redox Equations Sample Study Sheet: Balancing Redox Balance the following redox equation using Step

lance the following redox equation using Step 7: Balance the rest of the equation by
Equations Using the Oxidation Number either the “inspection” technique or the inspection.
Technique “oxidation number” method. Be sure to check
It is not always possible to balance redox
that the atoms and the charge are balanced.
equations using the simple “inspection” 2HNO3(aq) + 3H3AsO3(aq)
technique. The following unbalanced net ionic Tip-off – If you are asked to balance an ®
equation provides an example. equation and if you are not told whether the HNO3(aq) + H3AsO3(aq) ® NO(g) + H3AsO4(aq 2NO(g) + 3H3AsO4(aq) + H2O(l)
reaction is a redox reaction or not, you can use ) + H2O(l)
the following procedure.
Au3+(aq) + I−(aq) ® Au(s) + I2(s) EXAMPLE 2 - Balancing Redox Reactions
Solution: Using the Oxidation Number Method:
General Steps
At first glance, it seems that this equation can
be balanced by placing a 2 in front of the I−. Step 1: Try to balance the atoms by inspection. Balance the following redox equation using
Step 1: Try to balance the atoms in the either the “inspection” technique or the
equation by inspection, that is, by the standard “oxidation number” method. Be sure to check
Au3+(aq) + 2I−(aq) ® Au(s) + I2(s) The H and O atoms are difficult to balance in
technique for balancing non-redox equations. that the atoms and the charge are balanced.
this equation. You might arrive at the correct
(Many equations for redox reactions can be
balanced equation using a “trial and error”
Note, however, that although the atoms are now easily balanced by inspection.) If you
technique, but if you do not discover the correct Cu(s) + HNO3(aq) ® Cu(NO3)2(aq)
balanced, the charge is not. The sum of the successfully balance the atoms, go to Step 2. If
coefficients fairly quickly, proceed to Step 3. + NO(g) + H2O(l)
charges on the left is +1, and the sum of the you are unable to balance the atoms, go to Step
charges on the right is zero, as if the products 3.
could somehow have one more electron than Step 3: Is the reaction redox? Solution:
the reactants. To correctly balance this
Step 2: Check to be sure that the net charge is
equation, it helps to look more closely at the
the same on both sides of the equation. If it is, The N atoms change from +5 to +2, so they are The nitrogen atoms and the oxygen atoms are
oxidation and reduction that occur in the
you can assume that the equation is correctly reduced. This information is enough to tell us difficult to balance by inspection, so we will go
reaction. The iodine atoms are changing their
balanced. If the charge is not balanced, go to that the reaction is redox. (The As atoms, which to Step 3. The copper atoms are changing their
oxidation number from −1 to 0, so each iodide
Step 3. change from +3 to +5, are oxidized.) oxidation number from 0 to +2, and some of the
ion must be losing one electron. The Au3+ is
nitrogen atoms are changing from +5 to +2.
changing to Au, so each gold(III) cation must be
These changes indicate that this reaction is a
gaining three electrons. The half-reactions are: Step 3: If you have trouble balancing the atoms Step 4: Determine the net increase in oxidation
redox reaction. We next determine the changes
and the charge by inspection, determine the number for the element that is oxidized and the
in oxidation number for the atoms oxidized and
oxidation numbers for the atoms in the formula, net decrease in oxidation number for the
I−(aq) ® ½I2(s) + e− reduced.
and use them to decide whether the reaction is element that is reduced.
Au3+(aq) + 3e− ® Au(s) a redox reaction. If it is not redox, return to Step
1 and try again. If it is redox, go to Step 4. Cu 0 to +2 Net Change = +2
As +3 to +5 Net Change = +2
We know that in redox reactions, the number of
electrons lost by the reducing agent must be Step 4: Determine the net increase in oxidation Some N +5 to +2 Net Change = −3
equal to the number of electrons gained by the N +5 to +2 Net Change = −3
number for the element that is oxidized and the
oxidizing agent; thus, for each Au3+ that gains net decrease in oxidation number for the
three electrons, there must be three I− ions that We need three Cu atoms (net change of +6) for
element that is reduced. Step 5: Determine a ratio of oxidized to
each lose one electron. If we place a 3 in front every 2 nitrogen atoms that change (net change
reduced atoms that would yield a net increase
of the I− and balance the iodine atoms with a 3/2 of −6). Although the numbers for the ratio
in oxidation number equal to the net decrease in
in front of the I2, both the atoms and the charge Step 5: Determine a ratio of oxidized to determined in Step 5 are usually put in front of
oxidation number.
will be balanced. reduced atoms that would yield a net increase reactant formulas, this equation is somewhat
in oxidation number equal to the net decrease in different. Because some of the nitrogen atoms
oxidation number (a ratio that makes the As atoms would yield a net increase in oxidation are changing and some are not, we need to be
Au3+(aq) + 3I−(aq) ® Au(s) + 3/2I2(s) number of electrons lost equal to the number of number of +6. (Six electrons would be lost by careful to put the 2 in front of a formula in which
electrons gained). three arsenic atoms.) 2 N atoms would yield a all of the nitrogen atoms are changing or have
or 2Au3+(aq) + 6I−(aq) ® 2Au(s) + 3I2(s) net decrease of −6. (Two nitrogen atoms would changed. We therefore place the 2 in front of
gain six electrons.) Thus the ratio of As atoms to the NO(g) on the product side. The 3 for the
Step 6: Add coefficients to the formulas so as
N atoms is 3:2. copper atoms can be placed in front of the
Balancing Redox Equations Using the to obtain the correct ratio of the atoms whose
Cu(s).
Oxidation Number Method oxidation numbers are changing. (These
coefficients are usually placed in front of the Step 6: To get the ratio identified in Step 5, add
formulas on the reactant side of the arrow.) coefficients to the formulas which contain the 3Cu(s) + HNO3(aq) ® Cu(NO3)2(aq) + 2NO(g)
In most situations that call for balancing an elements whose oxidation number is changing. + H2O(l)
equation, you are not told whether the reaction
is redox or not. In these circumstances, you can Step 7: Balance the rest of the equation by
use a procedure called the oxidation number inspection. 2HNO3(aq) + 3H3AsO3(aq) ® NO(g) + We balance the rest of the atoms using the
method, which is outlined below. H3AsO4(aq) + H2O(l) technique described in Chapter 4, being careful
to keep the ratio of Cu to NO 3:2.
EXAMPLE 1 – Balancing Redox Reactions
Using the Oxidation Number Method
In order to balance equations of this type, we Balance the following redox equation using the Step 4: Balance the hydrogen atoms by
3Cu(s) + 8HNO3(aq) ® 3Cu(NO3)2(aq) + 2NO need a special technique called the half- “half-reaction” method. adding H+ ions on the side of the arrow where H
(g) + 4H2O(l) reaction method or the ion-electron method. atoms are needed.
Cr2O72−(aq) + HNO2(aq) ® Cr3+(aq) +
EXAMPLE Balancing Redox Reactions Using Sample Study Sheet: Balancing Redox NO3−(aq) (acidic) The first half-reaction needs 14 hydrogen atoms
the Oxidation Number Method Balance the Equations Run in Acidic Conditions Using on the left to balance the 14 hydrogen atoms in
following redox equation using either the the Half-reaction Technique the 7 H2O molecules, so we add 14 H+ ions to
Solution:
“inspection” technique or the “oxidation number” the left.
method. Be sure to check that the atoms and
Tip-off – If you are asked to balance a redox
the charge are balanced. Step 1: Write the skeletons of the oxidation
equation and told that it takes place in an acidic Cr2O72− + 14H+ ® 2Cr3+ + 7H2O
and reduction half-reactions.
solution, you can use the following procedure.
NO2(g) + H2(g) ® NH3(g) + H2O(l)
The second half-reaction needs three hydrogen
You will usually be given formulas for two
General Steps atoms on the right to balance the three
reactants and two products. In such cases, one
Solution: hydrogen atoms on the left, so we add 3 H+ ions
of the reactant formulas is used in writing one
to the right.
Step 1: Write the skeletons of the oxidation half-reaction, and the other reactant formula is
The atoms in this equation can be balanced by and reduction half-reactions. (The skeleton used in writing the other half-reaction. (In most
inspection. (You might first place a 2 in front of reactions contain the formulas of the cases, you do not need to know which reactant HNO2 + H2O ® NO3− + 3H+
the H2O to balance the O’s, then 7/2 in front of compounds oxidized and reduced, but the is oxidized and which is reduced.) The product
the H2 to balance the H’s, and then multiply all atoms and electrons have not yet been formula in each half-reaction must include all of
Step 5: Balance the charge by adding
the coefficients by 2 to get rid of the fraction.) balanced.) See Example. the elements in the reactant formula except
electrons, e-.
hydrogen and oxygen. There are circumstances
that make this step more complicated, but we
2NO2(g) + 7H2(g) ® 2NH3(g) + 4H2O(l) Step 2: Balance all elements other than H
will stick to simpler examples at this stage. The electrons go on the side of the equation
and O.
with the highest charge (most positive or least
We therefore proceed to Step 2. For the negative). We add enough electrons make the
Cr2O72− ® Cr3+
reaction between NO2 and H2, the net charge on Step 3: Balance the oxygen atoms by adding charge on that side of the equation equal to the
both sides of the equation in Step 1 is zero. H2O molecules where needed. charge on the other side of the equation.
Because the charge and the atoms are HNO2 ® NO3−
balanced, the equation is correctly balanced.
Step 4: Balance the hydrogen atoms by The sum of the charges on the left side of the
adding H+ ions where needed. Step 2: Balance all elements other than H chromium half-reaction is +12 (-2 for the Cr2O72−
Balancing Redox Equations for Reactions in and O. plus +14 for the 14 H+). The sum of the charges
Acidic Conditions Using the Half-reaction on the right side of the chromium half-reaction is
Step 5: Balance the charge by adding
Method +6 (for the 2 Cr3+). If we add six electrons to the
electrons, e-. To balance the chromium atoms in our first half-
left side, the sum of the charges on each side of
reaction, we need a two in front of Cr3+.
the equation becomes +6.
Redox reactions are commonly run in acidic
Step 6: If the number of electrons lost in the
solution, in which case the reaction equations
oxidation half-reaction is not equal to the Cr2O72− ® 2Cr3+
often include H2O(l) and H+(aq). This page will 6e− + Cr2O72− + 14H+ ® 2Cr3+ + 7H2O
number of electrons gained in the reduction
show you how to write balanced equations for
half-reaction, multiply one or both of the half-
such reactions even when you do not know HNO2 ® NO3−
reactions by a number that will make the The sum of the charges on the left side of the
whether the H2O(l) and H+(aq) are reactants or
number of electrons gained equal to the nitrogen half-reaction is zero. The sum of the
products. For example, you may know that
number of electrons lost. Step 3: Balance the oxygen atoms by adding charges on the right side of the nitrogen half-
dichromate ions, Cr2O72−, react with nitrous acid
H2O molecules on the side of the arrow where reaction is +2 (−1 for the nitrate plus +3 for the
molecules, HNO2, in acidic conditions to form
O atoms are needed. 3 H+). If we add two electrons to the right side,
chromium ions, Cr3+, and nitrate ions, NO3−. Step 7: Add the 2 half-reactions as if they
the sum of the charges on each side of the
Because the reaction requires acidic conditions, were mathematical equations. The electrons will
equation becomes zero.
you assume that H2O(l) and H+(aq) participate in always cancel. If the same formulas are found The first half-reaction needs seven oxygen
some way, but you do not know whether they on opposite sides of the half-reactions, you can atoms on the right, so we add seven H2O
are reactants or products, and you do not know cancel them. If the same formulas are found on molecules. HNO2 + H2O ® NO3− + 3H+ + 2e−
the coefficients for the reactants and products. the same side of both half-reactions, combine
An unbalanced equation for this reaction might them.
Cr2O72− ® 2Cr3+ + 7H2O (Although it is not necessary, you can check
be written
that you have added the correct number of
Step 8: Check to make sure that the atoms electrons by looking to see whether the net
Cr2O72−(aq) + HNO2(aq) ® Cr3+(aq) + The second half-reaction needs one more
and the charges balance. change in oxidation number for each half-
NO3−(aq) (acidic) oxygen atom on the left, so we add one H2O reaction is equal to the number of electrons
molecule. gained or lost. Because the two Cr atoms in
EXAMPLE – Balancing Redox Equations for
Cr2O72− are changing from +6 to +3, the net
Reactions Run in Acidic Conditions:
HNO2 + H2O ® NO3− change in oxidation number is 2(−3) or −6. This
would require six electrons, so we have added
the correct number of electrons to the first half- Balancing Redox Equations for Reactions in Step 10: Cancel or combine the H2O 2(Cr(OH)3 + H2O ® CrO42− + 5H+ + 3e− )
reaction. The N atom in HNO2 changes from +3 Basic Conditions Using the Half-reaction molecules.
to +5, so the net change is +2. Two electrons Method
ClO3− + 6H+ + 6e− ® Cl− + 3H2O
would be lost in this change, so we have added
Step 11: Check to make sure that the atoms
the correct number of electrons to the second
Redox reactions are also commonly run in basic and the charge balance. If they do balance, you
half-reaction.) or
solution, in which case, the reaction equations are done. If they do not balance, re-check your
often include H2O(l) and OH−(aq). You may work in Steps 1-10.
Step 6: If the number of electrons lost in the know the formulas for the reactants and 2Cr(OH)3 + 2H2O ® 2CrO42− + 10H+ + 6e−
oxidation half-reaction is not equal to the products for your reaction, but you may not
EXAMPLE – Balancing Redox Reactions
number of electrons gained in the reduction know whether the H2O(l) and OH−(aq) are
Using the Half-Reaction Method: Balance ClO3− + 6H+ + 6e− ® Cl− + 3H2O
half-reaction, multiply one or both of the half- reactants or products. For example, you may
the following redox equation using the “half-
reactions by a number that will make the know that solid chromium(III) hydroxide,
reaction” method.
number of electrons gained equal to the number Cr(OH)3, reacts with aqueous chlorate ions, Step 7:
lost. ClO3−, in basic conditions to form chromate ions,
CrO42−, and chloride ions, Cl−. Because the Cr(OH)3(s) + ClO3−(aq) ® CrO42−(aq) + Cl−(aq)
reaction requires basic conditions, you assume 2Cr(OH)3(s) + ClO3-(aq)
(basic)
For the chromium half-reaction to gain six ® 2CrO42−(aq) + Cl−(aq) + H2O(l) + 4H+(aq)
that H2O(l) and OH−(aq) participate in some
electrons, the nitrogen half-reaction must lose
way, but you do not know whether they are
six electrons. Thus we multiply the coefficients Solution:
reactants or products, and you do not know the Step 8: Because there are 4 H+ on the right side
in the nitrogen half-reaction by 3.
coefficients for the reactants and products. An of our equation above, we add 4 OH- to each
unbalanced equation for this reaction might be Step 1: side of the equation.
6e− + Cr2O72− + 14H+ ® 2Cr3+ + 7H2O written
Cr(OH)3(s) + ClO3−( aq) ® CrO42−(aq) + Cl−(aq) Cr(OH)3 ® CrO42− 2Cr(OH)3 + ClO3− + 4OH−
3(HNO2 + H2O ® NO3− + 3H+ + 2e−) or (basic) ® 2CrO42− + Cl− + H2O + 4H+ + 4OH−
ClO3− ® Cl−
6e− + Cr2O72− + 14H+ ® 2Cr3+ + 7H2O The process for balancing a redox reaction run Step 9: Combine the 4 H+ ions and the 4 OH-
in basic solution is very similar to the steps for ions on the right of the equation to form 4 H2O.
balancing redox equations for acidic solutions. Step 2: (Not necessary for this example)
3HNO2 + 3H2O ® 3NO3− + 9H+ + 6e− We first balance the equation as if it were in
acidic solution, and then we make corrections 2Cr(OH)3 + ClO3− + 4OH-
Cr(OH)3 ® CrO42−
for the fact that it is really in basic solution. ® 2CrO42− + Cl− + H2O + 4H2O
Step 7: Add the 2 half-reactions as if they
were mathematical equations.
ClO3− ® Cl−
Sample Study Sheet: Balancing Redox Step 10: Cancel or combine the H2O
Equations Run in Basic Conditions Using molecules.
The 3 H2O in the second half-reaction cancel
the Half-reaction Technique Step 3:
three of the 7 H2O in the first half-reaction to
yield 4 H2O on the right of the final equation. 2Cr(OH)3(s) + ClO3−(aq) + 4OH−(aq)
Tip-off – If you are asked to balance a redox Cr(OH)3 + H2O ® CrO42− ® 2CrO42−(aq) + Cl−(aq) +
equation and told that it takes place in a basic 5H2O(l)
The 9 H+ on the right of the second half-reaction
cancel nine of the 14 H+ on the left of the first solution, you can use the following procedure. ClO3− ® Cl− + 3H2O
half-reaction leaving 5 H+ on the left of the final Step 11: The atoms in our equation balance,
equation. General Steps and the sum of the charges in each side is −5.
Step 4:
Our equation is balanced correctly.
Cr2O72− + 3HNO2 + 5H+ ® Steps 1-7: Begin by balancing the equation as
2Cr3+ + 3NO3− + 4H2O Cr(OH)3 + H2O ® CrO42− + 5H+
if it were in acid solution. If you have H+ ions in
your equation at the end of these steps,
Step 8: Check to make sure that the atoms proceed to Step 8. Otherwise, skip to Step 11. ClO3− + 6H+ ® Cl− + 3H2O
and the charge balance.
Step 8: Add enough OH− ions to each side to Step 5:
The atoms in our example balance and the sum cancel the H+ ions. (Be sure to add the OH− ions
of the charges is +3 on each side, so our to both sides to keep the charge and atoms Cr(OH)3 + H2O ® CrO42− + 5H+ + 3e−
equation is correctly balanced. balanced.)

ClO3− + 6H+ + 6e− ® Cl− + 3H2O


Cr2O72−(aq) + 3HNO2(aq) + 5H+(aq) Step 9: Combine the H+ ions and OH− ions that
® 2Cr3+(aq) + 3NO3− (aq) + are on the same side of the equation to form
4H2O(l) water. Step 6: