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redoxall.wpd 11/22/10 BALANCING REDOX EQUATIONS VIA HALF-REACTIONS Preliminary Steps Prior to beginning the mechanical process of balancing a redox equation, certain facts must be ascertained. First , one must determine precisely what the reactants and products are for the given reaction. That is one must 33 know HOW that substance physically exists in the system. For example, HNO exists in aqueous solution as H O + 2 2 6 and NO ions and not as HNO . Likewise, MgCl exists in solution as Mg(H O) and Cl ions and not Mg and & +2 & Cl ions. & Next , One must recognize that not all of the solids, liquids, gases, and ions in a given reaction mixture are actually involved in the redox reaction. Therefore, one must determine which species ARE involved in the reaction. This is done by determining the oxidation states of all of the atoms in ALL of the reactants and products in the system and concluding which atoms are changing oxidation states. Finally , one picks out a product (which contains one of the atoms that changes oxidation state) and matches it with the reactant from which it is derived. This is repeated for the other product which involved atoms which underwent changes in oxidation state during the reaction. These two reactant/product pairs constitute the basis of the two HALF REACTIONS which will eventually be combined to give the properly balanced redox equation. Now that the reactants and products have been paired-up one can begin the mechanical process of balancing each half reaction. Balancing Half-Reactions The balancing of half-reactions is a simple four step process. STEP 1. Balance the half-reaction with respect to redox atoms. That is, pick a reactant/product pair and place the reactant on the left and the product on the right separated by an arrow.
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