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Laws of Chemical Combination

The laws of chemical combination lay the basic foundation for the
principle which decides the way in which atoms combine with
each other.
Law of Conservation of Mass
The law of conservation of mass states that the net change in
mass of the reactants and products before and after a chemical
reaction is zero. This means mass can neither be created nor
destroyed. In other words, the total mass in a chemical reaction
remains constant.
This law was formulated by Antoine Lavoisier in 1789. It was later
found to be be slightly inaccurate, as in the course of chemical
reactions, mass can interconvert with heat and bond energy.
However, these losses are very small, several orders of
magnitude smaller than the mass of the reactants, so that this
law is an excellent approximation.
Does the following chemical reaction obey the law of conservation
of mass?
Ca(OH)2 + CO2 CaCO3 + H2O
The masses of Ca, O, H, and C are 40 u, 16 u, 1 u, and 12 u
Since they obey the law of conservation of mass, the answer is
yes. Let's verify it. The molecular masses are
Ca(OH)2: 40 + 32 + 2 = 74
CO2: 12 + 32 = 44
CaCO3: 40 + 12 +48 = 100
H2O: 2 + 16 = 18
Substituting these values into the equation,
118 = 118
Law of Constant Proportions
The law of constant proportions states that when a compound is
broken, the masses of the constituent elements remain in the
same proportion. Or, in a chemical compound, the elements are
always present in definite proportions by mass.
This means each compound has the same elements in the same
proportions, regardless of where the compound was obtained,
who prepared it, or its mass.
This law was formulated and proven by Joseph Louis Proust in
A person living in Australia sent a 100 mL sample of CaCO 3
(Calcium carbonate) to a person living in India. The person living
in India made his own sample of 200 mL and compared it to his
friend's sample. Which of the two compounds has a greater ratio
of Ca : C
Both contain equal ratios of Ca and C. This is guaranteed by the
law of constant proportions.
Law of Multiple Proportions
The law of multiple proportions states that when two elements
form two or more compounds between them, the ratio of the
masses of the second element in each compound can be
expressed in the form of small whole numbers.
This law was proposed by John Dalton, and it is a combination of
the previous laws.
Carbon combines with oxygen to form two different compounds
(under different circumstances). One is the most common gas CO 2
and the other is CO. Do they obey the law of multiple proportions?
Yes, they do obey the law of multiple proportions. Let's verify it.
We know that the mass of carbon is 12 u and the mass of oxygen
is 16 u.
So, we can say that 12 g of carbon combines with 32 g of oxygen
to form CO2.
Similarly, 12 g of carbon combines with 16 g of oxygen to form
So, the ratio of oxygen in the first and second compound is 2 : 1 =
32/16 = 2, which is a whole number.
Law of Reciprocal Proportions
The law of reciprocal proportions states that when two different
elements combine with the same quantity of the third element,
the ratio in which they will do so will be the same or a multiple of
the proportion in which they combine with each other.
This law was proposed by Jeremias Ritcher in 1792.
Oxygen and sulfur react with copper to create copper oxide and
copper sulfide, respectively. Sulfur and oxygen also react with
each other to form SO2 Therefore,
In CuS, Cu : S = 63.5 : 32
In CuO, Cu : O = 63.5 : 16
S : O = 32 : 16
Now in SO2, we have S : O = 32 : 32 = 1 : 1
Thus the ratio between the two ratios is the following: 2/1 : 1/1 =
which is a simple multiple ratio.