Problem: Vitamin C is known chemically by the name ascorbic acid. Determine the empirical formula of ascorbic acid if it is composed of 40.92% carbon, 4.58% hydrogen, and 54.50% oxygen.

FREE Expert Solution

We’re being asked to determine the empirical formula of ascorbic acid if it is composed of 40.92% carbon, 4.58% hydrogen, and 54.50% oxygen.


This means we need to do the following steps:


Step 1: Calculate the mass and moles of C, H, and O in the compound.

Step 2: Determine the lowest whole number ratio of C, H, and O to get the empirical formula.



Step 1: The compound is composed of C, H, O and we’re given the mass percent of C (40.92% C), H (4.58% H) and O (54.50% O)

Check if the mass percentages of the compound add up to 100%


This means:


Total mass% = mass% C + mass%H + mass% OTotal mass % = 40.92% + 4.58%+ 54.50%Total mass% = 100.00%


Recall that mass percent is given by:

%mass = mass XTotal massx100


Assuming we have 100 g of the compound, this means we have 40.92 g C, 4.58 g H, and 54.50 g O

Now, we need to get the moles of each element in the compound. 


The atomic masses are 12 g/mol C, 1 g/mol H, 16 g/mol O.


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Problem Details

Vitamin C is known chemically by the name ascorbic acid. Determine the empirical formula of ascorbic acid if it is composed of 40.92% carbon, 4.58% hydrogen, and 54.50% oxygen.

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