Can You Find The Empirical Formula Of A Compound That Has A Composition Of 5.9% Hydrogen And 94.1% Oxygen?


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Michael Sholar answered
The percentages that you list are based on the ratio of the masses of the atoms composing the molecule.

Convert the percentages to a ratio: 94 / 6 = 15.7 So for every 1 part Hydrogen there are about 16 parts Oxygen.

Remember these ratios are based on atomic mass.

Use a periodic table to check the masses of H and O

H = about 1

O = about 16

Therefore the empirical formula in this case is very easy. There is 1 H for every 1 O.

The empirical formula is: OH (or HO, I don't think it matters)

Just as another example: If the H % was 12 and the O % was 88 then the ratio would be:

88 / 12 = 7.3 so for every 1 part H there are 7.3 parts O.

Remember the Atomic mass of H = 1 and O = 16

You can't have 1/2 an atom in an empirical formula and 7.3 is about half of 16. Therefore you'd need to multiply the 1 part H to 7 parts O by 2 to not have a half atom in your formula. This gives the ratio of 2 : 14.6 which is pretty close to 2 : 16 and that tells us that the molecular formula would be 2 H's for every 1 O. Or H2O

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