How do you balance an equation?

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In mathematics, balancing an equation is done by any of the following:

  • adding the same number/variable on both sides of equality
  • subtracting the same number/variable on both sides of equality
  • multiplying the same number/variable on both sides of equality
  • dividing by the same number/ variable on both sides of equality
  • Raising both the sides of an equation by the same power.

All of these operations will keep the equation intact or balanced. 

For example, if our equation is y = x +2

then, y+5 = x+2+5

or, y-3 = x+2-3

or 10y = 10 (x+2)

y/5 = (x+2)/5

y^3 = (x+2)^3

all will still yield the same result. The idea is that the same operation is carried out on both sides of the equality.

Please note that balancing an equation is more commonly used for balancing the chemical equation, where the idea is to get the same number of atoms of elements on either sides of the equation. Many a times this balancing all includes balancing of the charge (+ and -).

Hope this helps.

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