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5.7 End-of-Chapter Material

Chapter Summary

To ensure that you understand the material in this chapter, you should review the meanings of the following bold terms in the following summary and ask yourself how they relate to the topics in the chapter.

Scientific laws are general statements that apply to a wide variety of circumstances. One important law in chemistry is the law of conservation of matter, which states that in any closed system, the amount of matter stays constant.

Chemical equations are used to represent chemical reactions. Reactants change chemically into products. The law of conservation of matter requires that a proper chemical equation be balanced. Coefficients are used to show the relative numbers of reactant and product molecules.

In stoichiometry, quantities of reactants and/or products can be related to each other using the balanced chemical equation. The coefficients in a balanced chemical reaction are used to devise the proper ratios that relate the number of molecules of one substance to the number of molecules of another substance.

Chemical reactions can be classified by type. Combination reactions (also called composition reactions) make a substance from other substances. Decomposition reactions break one substance down into multiple substances. Combustion reactions combine molecular oxygen with the atoms of another reactant.

Oxidation reactions are reactions in which an atom loses an electron. Reduction reactions are reactions in which an atom gains an electron. These two processes always occur together, so they are collectively referred to as oxidation-reduction (or redox) reactions. The species being oxidized it called the reducing agent, while the species being reduced is the oxidizing agent. Alternate definitions of oxidation and reduction focus on the gain or loss of oxygen atoms, or the loss or gain of hydrogen atoms. Redox reactions are easily balanced if the overall reaction is first separated into half reactions, which are individually balanced.

Oxidation-reduction reactions are common in organic and biological chemistry. Respiration, the process by which we inhale and metabolize oxygen, is a series of redox reactions. In the absence of oxygen, redox reactions still occur in a process called anaerobic metabolism. Antioxidants such as ascorbic acid also play a part in the human diet, acting as reducing agents in various biochemical reactions. Photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert water and carbon dioxide to glucose, is also based on redox reactions.

Additional Exercises

  1. Isooctane (C8H18) is used as a standard for comparing gasoline performance. Write a balanced chemical equation for the combustion of isooctane.

  2. Heptane (C7H16), like isooctane (see Exercise 1), is also used as a standard for determining gasoline performance. Write a balanced chemical equation for the combustion of heptane.

  3. What is the difference between a combination reaction and a redox reaction? Are all combination reactions also redox reactions? Are all redox reactions also combination reactions?

  4. Are combustion reactions always redox reactions as well? Explain.

  5. A friend argues that the equation

    Fe2+ + Na → Fe + Na+

    is balanced because each side has one iron atom and one sodium atom. Explain why your friend is incorrect.

  6. Some antacids contain aluminum hydroxide [Al(OH)3]. This compound reacts with excess hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach to neutralize it. If the products of this reaction are water and aluminum chloride, what is the balanced chemical equation for this reaction?

  7. Sulfuric acid is made in a three-step process: (1) the combustion of elemental sulfur to produce sulfur dioxide, (2) the continued reaction of sulfur dioxide with oxygen to produce sulfur trioxide, and (3) the reaction of sulfur trioxide with water to make sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Write balanced chemical equations for all three reactions.

  8. If the products of glucose metabolism are carbon dioxide and water, what is the balanced chemical equation for the overall process? What is the stoichiometric ratio between the number of CO2 molecules made to the number of H2O molecules made?

  9. Historically, the first true battery was the Leclanché cell, named after its discoverer, Georges Leclanché. It was based on the following reaction:

    Zn(s) + Cu2+(aq) → Zn2+(aq) + Cu(s)

    Identify what is being oxidized, what is being reduced, and the respective reducing and oxidizing agents.


  1. 2C8H18 + 25O2 → 16CO2 + 18H2O

  2. A combination reaction makes a new substance from more than one reactant; a redox reaction rearranges electrons. Not all combination reactions are redox reactions, and not all redox reactions are combination reactions.

  3. Your friend is incorrect because the number of electrons transferring is not balanced.

  4. (1) S + O2 → SO2; (2) 2SO2 + O2 → 2SO3; (3) SO3 + H2O → H2SO4

  5. oxidized and reducing agent: Zn; reduced and oxidizing agent: Cu2+