Understanding net ionic equations in chemistry requires an initial understanding ionic exchange reactions, and in particular, precipitation reactions. Ionic exchange reactions, including precipitation reactions, take ar in water, referred to in chemistry together “aqueous solution.” once an ionic compound is liquified in water, that ionizes, which way that each molecule divides into two particles: a positively charged cation and also a negatively charged anion. If two ionic compound are liquified in water and mixed together, the cations and also anions have actually the opportunity of convert places, i m sorry is called an ionic exchange reaction. This can be a deceiving explanation the what’s walking on in that water, though, because in reality, every the cations and also anions in aqueous services are just floating around cost-free in the water – unless a precipitation reaction occurs.


A precipitation reaction is one that forms a precipitate, i m sorry is arsenal of solid corpuscle in an otherwise aqueous, dissolved solution. Take into consideration the reaction in between calcium chloride, CaCl2, and sodium carbonate, Na2CO3. Independently, the two substances dissolve completely in water. However, if you mix the 2 aqueous solutions together, a white precipitate appears and falls out of solution, stable to the bottom. The white substance is calcium carbonate, and it is created by an ionic exchange reaction the looks prefer this:

CaCl2(aq) + Na2CO3(aq) -> CaCO2(s) + 2NaCl(aq)

CaCl2 is calcium chloride, and also Na2CO3 is sodium carbonate; the “(aq)” complying with each method that the is dissolved in aqueous solution. CaCO2 is calcium carbonate, the precipitate, which is followed by “(s)” come designate it together a solid, undissolved in the solution. So what is NaCl, the other compound the is formed when you mix calcium chloride and also sodium carbonate? It’s salt chloride, frequently known as table salt or sea salt. You probably recognize from suffer that salt chloride dissolves in water, so you must not it is in surprised that it go not loss out that solution, yet remains in the aqueous state. Friend might also not be surprised to uncover that calcium carbonate does not conveniently dissolve in water, and therefore precipitates when developed by ionic exchange, if girlfriend knew the seashells room made generally of calcium carbonate. Once was the critical time you observed a seashell dissolve in water?

So, what is a network ionic equation, then? due to the fact that the calcium chloride and sodium lead carbonate were liquified in water prior to being mixed together, and also since the sodium chloride stays liquified in the end, every three room truly in ionic kind throughout the reaction. The reaction might then accurately be represented like this:

Ca2+ + 2Cl- + 2Na+ + (CO3)2- -> CaCO2 + 2Na+ + 2Cl-

Ca2+ and also Na+ room positively fee cations, floating free in the water at a proportion of 2 Na+ ion for every one Ca2+ ion. Similarly, Cl- and (CO3)2- room negatively fee anions, also floating in the water, v twice as many Cl- ions as (CO3)2- ions. As soon as calcium chloride and sodium carbonate are liquified in water, the ion float free. Likewise, ~ the two options are mixed, the Na+ and Cl- ions proceed to float free in the last solution, because they stay dissolved. Due to the fact that the Na+ and also Cl- ions are ionized in equipment both before and also after the reaction, and also they continue to be unchanged by the reaction, one can infer that they perform not actually take part in the reaction in ~ all. Instead, lock hang out in the aqueous solution and also watch the other two ions, Ca2+ and also (CO3)2-, reaction v one another.

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For this reason, the Na+ and also Cl- ions are referred to as spectator ions.

A net ionic equation is an equation representing the actual reaction that occurs throughout a precipitation reaction, leaving out the spectator ions. Because that the calcium lead carbonate precipitation reaction, the net ionic equation looks like this: