Mingde’s Science Corner 1: Complete Combustion Rule

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, mostly due to school. Since then, I’ve competed in a science fair and won some prizes. I’ll write about that soon.

To tide you over in the meantime, I have a neat rule if you need to balance complete combustion equations.

Today we are starting a new series of posts, Mingde’s Science Corner! Here, I will post about my own findings and inventions!

If you’re taking a chemistry course anywhere (high school, college, university), you’ve probably had to balance chemical equations. The basic idea is that all matter that starts on the left side must equal all the matter that finishes on the right side. It’s like baking a cake: You can’t put one pot of batter in the oven and get two cakes!

Complete combustion is when a hydrocarbon (such as natural gas, CH4, or propane, C3H8) burns completely, leaving no soot. This is when you see a blue flame on your barbecue.

However, balancing such equations has always been somewhat of a tedious thing for me. Luckily, I’ve found a neat trick for balancing the complete combustion of hydrocarbons. I’m sure it’s been found elsewhere, but I thought that I’d share it with you:

7 - Yin Rule.png

This will work for ANY hydrocarbon that takes the form CxHy. For instance, we can plug in methane, or natural gas, CH4, to get:7 - Yin Rule.png

Additionally, if x or y cannot perfectly fit into the equation, you can change the quantity of the hydrocarbon. For instance, let’s take ethane, C2H2:7 - Yin Rule.png

So the next time you see a balancing problem with complete combustion, use the rule and it will be right 100% of the time.


On the next Mingde’s Science Corner, I will be talking about my entry in the Ottawa Regional Science Fair. Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned and stay sciency,


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