Using Oxidation Numbers to Balance Equations
Some equations can be balanced by sight. Others require more work on the part of the student. Some equations cannot be balanced by sight and ones involving many reactants and products can be almost impossible to solve. Below is a method of balancing using redox numbers that works for all reaction no matter how complex.
Step 1 Write the correct formulas for all the reactants and products
Step 2 Assign oxidation numbers to the atoms in the equation.
Step 3 Identify which atoms change their oxidation numbers.
Step 4 Make the number of atoms that change oxidation number the same on both sides by inserting temporary coefficients.
Step 5 Compute the total change in oxidation number for the oxidation and reduction that occur.
Step 6 Make the total increase in oxidation number equal the total decrease by multiplication using appropriate factors.
Step 7 Balance the remainder by inspection.
               Go to the Electrochemistry Electron Transfer Balancing Worksheet