If the limiting reactant in a certain chemical equation is impure, how will this affect the percentage yield of the reaction?

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justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For a reaction A + B --> C + D, let the limiting reactant be A and the excess reactant be B. The amount of B that reacts is dependent solely on the amount of A that is available to take part in the reaction. This is what makes A the limiting reagent, the progress of the reaction is limited on the amount of A available.

If the limiting reagent is impure, the reaction yield can only be equal to the purity of the limiting reagent. Assume that the limiting reagent A has a purity of X%. The reaction yield in this case cannot exceed X%. Even if there is an amount of reagent B left to take part in the reaction, the other reagent is not available for the reaction to proceed.