Chapter 8: Chemical Equations

Enhanced Introductory College Chemistry

by Gregory Anderson; Caryn Fahey; Jackie MacDonald; Adrienne Richards; Samantha Sullivan Sauer; J.R. van Haarlem; and  David Wegman;

Chapter Contents

Except where otherwise noted, this OER is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Please visit the web version of Enhanced Introductory College Chemistry to access the complete book, interactive activities and ancillary resources.

In this chapter, you will learn about

  • Components of a chemical equation
  • Writing chemical compounds in a chemical reaction
  • Balancing chemical reactions
  • The 5 types of chemical reactions (combustion, combination, decomposition, single displacement and double displacement)

To better support your learning, you should be familiar with the following concepts before starting this chapter:

  • States of matter
  • Elements
  • Compounds
  • Moles
  • Molar mass
An image is shown of a rocket that appears to have just passed through a layer of clouds as it travels skyward. A bright white light is seen in the upper right corner of the image. To the lower left appears the layer of clouds and the bottom of the rocket with fire projecting from the fuel cones at its base.
Figure 8a: Many modern rocket fuels are solid mixtures of substances combined in carefully measured amounts and ignited to yield a thrust-generating chemical reaction. (credit: work courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech, JPL Image Policy.)

Solid-fuel rockets are a central feature in the world’s space exploration programs, including the new Space Launch System being developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to replace the retired Space Shuttle fleet (Figure 8a). The engines of these rockets rely on carefully prepared solid mixtures of chemicals combined in precisely measured amounts. Igniting the mixture initiates a vigorous chemical reaction that rapidly generates large amounts of gaseous products. These gases are ejected from the rocket engine through its nozzle, providing the thrust needed to propel heavy payloads into space. Both the nature of this chemical reaction and the relationships between the amounts of the substances being consumed and produced by the reaction are critically important considerations that determine the success of the technology. This chapter will describe how to symbolize chemical reactions using chemical equations, how to classify some common chemical reactions by identifying patterns of reactivity, and how to determine the quantitative relations between the amounts of substances involved in chemical reactions – that is, the reaction stoichiometry.

Attribution & References

Except where otherwise noted, this page is adapted by Adrienne Richards from “Chapter 7 Introduction” In General Chemistry 1 & 2 by Rice University, a derivative of Chemistry (Open Stax) by Paul Flowers, Klaus Theopold, Richard Langley & William R. Robinson and is licensed under CC BY 4.0. ​Access for free at Chemistry (OpenStax)


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Enhanced Introductory College Chemistry Copyright © 2023 by Gregory Anderson; Caryn Fahey; Jackie MacDonald; Adrienne Richards; Samantha Sullivan Sauer; J.R. van Haarlem; and David Wegman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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