Question Video: Identifying the Chemical Equation for the Reaction between Sodium Nitrate and Sulfuric Acid Chemistry

Nitric acid can be produced by mixing sodium nitrate with sulfuric acid and heating the mixture to 83°C. Which of the following is the correct chemical equation for this reaction? [A] NaNO₂ + H₂SO₄ ⟶ NaSO₃ + H₂NO₃ [B] Na(NO₃)₂ + H₂SO₄ ⟶ NaSO₄ + 2 HNO₃ [C] NaNO₃ + HSO₄ ⟶ NaSO₄ + HNO₃ [D] NaNO₃ + H₂SO₄ ⟶ NaHSO₄ + HNO₃ [E] Na₂(NO₃) + 2 H₂SO₄ ⟶ 2 NaSO₄ + H₂NO₃ + H₂

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Video Transcript

Nitric acid can be produced by mixing sodium nitrate with sulfuric acid and heating the mixture to 83 degrees Celsius. Which of the following is the correct chemical equation for this reaction? (A) NaNO2 plus H2SO4 produces NaSO3 plus H2NO3. (B) Na(NO3)2 plus H2SO4 produces NaSO4 plus two HNO3. (C) NaNO3 plus HSO4 produces NaSO4 plus HNO3. (D) NaNO3 plus H2SO4 produces NaHSO4 plus HNO3. Or (E) Na2(NO3) plus two H2SO4 produces two NaSO4 plus H2NO3 plus H2.

This question describes a reaction in words and then asks us to find the chemical equation that matches it. To select the correct chemical equation, we will need to determine the chemical formulas of the compounds named in the question. The simplest compound to start with is sodium nitrate. Sodium nitrate is an ionic compound made up of a sodium ion and a nitrate ion. Since the two ions have opposite charges, a one plus ion and a one minus ion, we can combine them in a one-to-one ratio to determine the chemical formula of sodium nitrate, NaNO3.

In our answer choices here, the first reactant, the one that should be sodium nitrate, only has the correct chemical formula in answer choice (C) and (D). So we can eliminate the other three answer choices from consideration. There are two acids in this problem: nitric acid and sulfuric acid. And we can determine their chemical formulas by looking at a certain rule. The relevant rule for naming acids here is that if an ion’s name ends in -ate, the name of the acid it forms ends in -ic acid.

For example, in this problem, we have nitric acid. Based on the rule, we know that the anion of nitric acid is a nitrate ion. We looked at the nitrate ion earlier. Its chemical formula is NO3−. To turn it into an acid, all we need to do is add enough hydrogens to counteract the negative charge. In this case, it takes only one. The chemical formula of nitric acid is HNO3. Both remaining answer choices have the correct formula for nitric acid as one of the products in the chemical equation. So we need to look at sulfuric acid.

Following the same pattern as before, we start with sulfuric acid. Following the naming rule, the anion should end in -ate, a sulfate ion. The sulfate ion has a chemical formula of SO42−. Since the sulfate ion has a two minus charge, we need to add two hydrogen ions to end up with a neutral compound. If we compare the second reactant of each of the remaining answer choices, we can see that only answer choice (D) has the correct chemical formula for sulfuric acid, H2SO4. Choice (D) is the correct answer. It correctly displays NaNO3 as the chemical formula for sodium nitrate, H2SO4 as the chemical formula for sulfuric acid, and HNO3 as the chemical formula for nitric acid. The last compound, sodium hydrogen sulfate, is not mentioned in the question, but it is a product of this reaction.

So, “Which of the following is the correct chemical equation for this reaction?” That’s the reaction shown in choice (D). NaNO3 plus H2SO4 produces NaHSO4 plus HNO3.

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