Elements and Compounds
Molecular Mass

How do you find the molecular formula of a compound?

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Answered 2011-03-16 17:06:06

It's very easy. First of all we test the given sample in laboratory to know about its constitution. Let's discuss it by taking an example:-

Suppose the constitution of a compound is given as below:-

C = 92.4%, H = 7.6%

let's assume that the sample is 100 gram. so the weight of carbon is 92.4 gram & that of hydrogen is 7.6 gram. Now it's we must make sure that is the total of weights of constituents 100 or not? If it is not 100, it means there is an another element in the compound, and this is always oxygen in case of hydrocarbons.

Step 1st :- Find out the number of moles of each element

number of moles = weight of the element/atomic mass

number of moles of C = 92.4/12 = 7.7 moles

number of moles of H = 7.6/1 = 7.6 mole

Step 2nd:- Find out the relative ratio of the moles:- It is simply done by dividing all by the smallest one

C = 7.7/7.6 = 1.01

H = 7.6/7.6 = 1

Step 3rd:- If the ratio is not whole numbers the multiply all the numbers by a smallest integer number to make them whole numbers.

Here in this case both are nearly whole numbers. so there is need to multiply these numbers.

C = 1

H = 1

Step 4th:- Write the empirical formula


step 5th:- Find the weight of empirical formula

1*12 + 1*1 = 13

now if the molecular weight is given then the molecular formula can be written easily.

molecular weight = ( empirical formula weight)n

for example the molecular weight is 78.

n = 78/13 = 6

so the molecular formula is = C6H6

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