Net Ionic Equations

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09. Net Ionic Equations tutorial.doc
Introduction to Net Ionic Equations
This tutorial will give you an algorithm for writing net ionic equations for aqueous reactions in general chemistry. Knowledge of the solubility rules is necessary to complete this tutorial. A list of solubility rules is provided at the end of the tutorial for review. Net ionic equations are necessary in chemistry for several reasons:
1. They show only those species undergoing chemical change – “spectator” ions are removed.
2. They must be used in any equilibrium calculation.
3. They allow chemical reactions to be combined properly.
4. Used when balancing half-reactions in oxidation-reduction chemistry.
To take a chemical reaction in molecular form and rewrite as a net ionic equation is straight forward if you follow the steps given below. We will cover each step in detail using a common gas forming reaction from chemistry 1A.
1. Write the correct reactant and products – DO NOT BALANCE!
The first step is to write the correct chemical formulas for the reactants and products, DO NOT
BALANCE. The reaction will be balanced once the net-ionic equation is complete. As an example reaction, we will look at the aqueous reaction of sodium carbonate with acetic acid.
Na2CO3 + HC2H3O2 ! NaC2H3O2 + H2O + CO2

(skeleton equation)

The above reaction is called the skeleton equation; it contains only the correct chemical formulas of each reactant and product. Do not balance this equation!
2. Add phase symbols to EVERY reactant and product.
This next step is crucial! You need to add the correct phase symbols to each reactant and product.
You must rely on the solubility rules to assign the phase symbols. The phase symbols are
• (s) solid - for insoluble salts. Check the solubility rules!
• (l) liquid - for pure liquids like water.
• (g) gas – for gaseous reactants and products.
• (aq)…...

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