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Chemistry LibreTexts

5: Chemical Reactions

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  • In Chapter 2, we learned that chemical changes result in the transformation of one chemical substance into a different substance having a new set of chemical and physical properties. The transformation of one substance into another is called a chemical reaction and is described using a chemical equation. In this chapter we will learn how to write and balance simple chemical equations. We will learn the basic types of chemical reactions and we will learn how to predict the products that are likely to be formed when these reactions occur. We will examine a special type of chemical reaction in which one of the products has low solubility in water and precipitates from solution. Understanding the basic rules of solubility is simple and again will allow us to predict when this type of reaction is likely to be observed. Finally, we will address the energetics of chemical reactions, laying a fundamental background for the study of reaction rates and equilibrium later in the course.

    Thumbnail: When a zinc rod is inserted into a beaker that contains an aqueous solution of copper(II) sulfate, a spontaneous redox reaction occurs: the zinc electrode dissolves to give Zn2+(aq) ions, while Cu2+(aq) ions are simultaneously reduced to metallic copper. The reaction occurs so rapidly that the copper is deposited as very fine particles that appear black, rather than the usual reddish color of copper.