how to balance chemical equation by ion electron method



Have you ever come across a chemical equation that seems imbalanced? Balancing chemical equations is a fundamental skill in chemistry and an essential step in many chemical calculations. It ensures that the number of atoms on both sides of the equation is equal and reflects the law of conservation of mass. While there are various methods to balance chemical equations, one effective approach is the ion-electron method. In this article, we will explore the ion-electron method in detail and learn how to balance chemical equations using this technique.

The Ion-Electron Method: Understanding the Basics

The ion-electron method, also known as the half-reaction method, is a systematic technique employed to balance redox (reduction-oxidation) reactions. It involves splitting the overall reaction into two half-reactions: one representing the reduction process and the other the oxidation process. By balancing these two half-reactions separately and combining them, we can achieve a balanced overall chemical equation. This method is particularly useful when balancing reactions that occur in acidic or basic aqueous solutions.

To illustrate the ion-electron method, let's consider the reaction between potassium permanganate (KMnO4) and iron(II) sulfate (FeSO4) in an acidic solution, which yields manganese(II) sulfate (MnSO4), iron(III) sulfate (Fe2(SO4)3), and water (H2O):

MnO4^- + Fe^2+ → Mn^2+ + Fe^3+

In this example, we have an unbalanced redox reaction involving multiple elements and charges. By following the ion-electron method, we can systematically balance this equation.

Step 1: Assigning Oxidation Numbers

The first step in the ion-electron method is to assign oxidation numbers to each element in the reaction. Oxidation numbers represent the hypothetical charge that an atom would possess if electrons were completely transferred. They are essential for identifying which atoms are undergoing oxidation (increasing in oxidation number) or reduction (decreasing in oxidation number).

In our example, we have the following oxidation numbers:

Mn: +7 (in KMnO4) → +2 (in MnSO4)

Fe: +2 (in FeSO4) → +3 (in Fe2(SO4)3)

Step 2: Identifying Redox Reactions

After assigning oxidation numbers, we can identify which elements are being oxidized or reduced. This determination is based on the change in their oxidation numbers. In our example, manganese (Mn) is reducing from +7 to +2, indicating reduction, while iron (Fe) is oxidizing from +2 to +3.

Step 3: Splitting the Reaction into Half-Reactions

Following the identification of redox reactions, we split the overall equation into two separate half-reactions: the reduction half-reaction and the oxidation half-reaction.

In our example, the reduction half-reaction is as follows:

MnO4^- → Mn^2+

The oxidation half-reaction becomes:

Fe^2+ → Fe^3+

Step 4: Balancing Half-Reactions

With the half-reactions established, the next step is to balance each half-reaction individually. Start by balancing elements other than hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O). Since manganese appears on both sides of the reduction half-reaction, we can balance it by adding a coefficient of 1:

MnO4^- → Mn^2+

Now, let's consider the oxidation half-reaction for iron. To balance it, we need to add electrons (e^-) to one side to match the change in oxidation numbers:

Fe^2+ → Fe^3+ + e^-

Step 5: Equalizing Electrons

At this point, we have two half-reactions that are balanced in terms of atoms except for the unequal number of electrons. To ensure that the numbers of electrons are equal in both half-reactions, we multiply each half-reaction by an appropriate integer. In our case, multiplying the reduction half-reaction by 5 and the oxidation half-reaction by 2 will equalize electrons:

5MnO4^- → 5Mn^2+

2Fe^2+ → 2Fe^3+ + 2e^-

Step 6: Combining Half-Reactions


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