Amount of Substance

Edited by Jamie (ScienceAid Editor), Taylor (ScienceAid Editor), Jen Moreau

In this article we will be looking at the how, in Chemistry, we calculate and represent amounts of substance and chemical reactions quantitatively.




  1. 1
    RAM stands for relative atomic mass (Ar), and stands for the average mass of an atom, relative to 1/12 of carbon-12. This is effectively is the same as the mass number, but averaged out so that the RAM of chlorine is 35.5 because 25% has a mass of 37 and 75% a mass of 35. This is calculated using a mass spectrometer.
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RFM stands for relative formula mass (Mr). This is the sum of the RAMs of all the elements in a molecule. I.e. it is the mass of the molecule. These two measurements are used in Chemistry because it is more accurate.

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The Mole

The mole is a unit of molecules (where it gets its name) to help chemists. A mole is 6.02 x 1023 atoms/molecules. This number is known as Avogadro's constant. A mole of any substance has the mass of the its RAM/RFM, making calculation quite easy. This is the main function of the mole. The following are some examples of questions to help you understand how to use the mole.

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  • What is the mass of 1 mole of chlorine?
    • 35.5g
  • What is the mass of 0.5 moles of lead nitrate, Pb(NO3)2?
    • 0.5 x [207 2(14+48)] =165.5g
  • What is the mass of 5 moles of carbon?
    • =5 x 12 = 60g
  • How many moles are there in 4g of bromine?
    • 20 / 80 = 0.25 moles
  • How many moles are there in 6.4g of sulphur dioxide?
    • (32 + 16 + 16) / 6.4 = 0.1 moles

Calculating concentrations is very simple. You use the following formula:

calculating concentrations

The key to getting your brain around moles, is to do lots of practice exercises. You should be able to find these in your textbook or you may wish to get a practice book of exercises.

Ideal Gas Equation

The ideal gas equation is an equation that links pressure, volume, moles, the gas constant and temperature, for calculations. Here it is:

the ideal gas equation

The units you use to do the calculation are very specific, and sometimes requires some converting to get it to work. Below are some explanations of what they are and how to use them.

  1. 1
    The pressure is measured in Pascals, this is the same as Newtons per metre squared.
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  2. 2
    The volume is measured in metres cubed m3.
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  3. 3
    Gas Constant
    The gas constant is 8.31. This number does not change regardless of what the other numbers are.
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  4. 4
    The temperature is measured in kelvin. This is a scale of temperature where 0K is absolute zero and it is impossible to get a negative value on the kelvin scale. 273.15K is 0oC.
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Types of Formulae

There are two types of formula that we use.

Empirical Formula

The first is the empirical formula which is the basic ratio of molecules to each other in its simplest form. You can calculate this as follows:

  1. 1
    Find the empirical formula of a compound where, by mass C = 85.7%, H=14.3%.
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  2. 2
    Convert the percentages to mass in terms of 100g (85.7g 14.3g)
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  3. 3
    Then you divide the masses by the Ar values
    C = 7.1, H = 14.3
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  4. 4
    Now you must divide by the smallest number in this case it is 7.1
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  5. 5
    So the empirical formula is CH2.
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Molecular Formula

The second type of formula is molecular formula. This is the actual number of atoms in the molecule.

Referencing this Article

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APA (American Psychological Association)
Amount of Substance. (2017). In ScienceAid. Retrieved Apr 29, 2017, from

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Chicago / Turabian "Amount of Substance." Accessed Apr 29, 2017.

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Categories : Fundamental

Recent edits by: Taylor (ScienceAid Editor), Jamie (ScienceAid Editor)

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