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The book I'm studying with often confronts me with exercises that involve solving reactions such as $$\ce{CA(OH)_2 + CO_2 -> ?}$$.

Now, most of the time, the questions are just repetitions of material that has been taught, that reaction in particular has been shown many times in the chapter before the questions, $$\ce{... -> CaCO_3 + H_2O}$$, but not explained.

When I look up such reactions on the Internet to try to understand, I mostly come across people who ask others to balance the equations for them. But that is not really interesting for me, as I find balancing a trivial mathematical task.

I am, however, failing to understand why this reaction (or many other reactions) happen the way they do. My book has also mentioned that you can combine two materials, like $$\ce{CO + H2}$$, in different ratios, under different temperatures, pressures, and with different catalysts, to get different results (methane, methanol, and many others).

So my question is -- when asked to solve a reaction, and given only the reactants (or possibly also other factors such as mentioned above), is there a mathematical principle (for example, relying on differences in electronegativity) to solve the reaction besides being completely familiarised with molecular orbital theory and quantum mechanics? Because so far, the only alternative I can see is memorising the reactions.

I realise this question is rather broad, and possibly there is no satisfying answer to it or any answer besides to go study quantum mechanics, but to provide some context, I'm a student at high school studying chemistry not as my main subject (so on a rather elementary level), and I'm looking for a perspective how to understand the material I learn and not memorise it.

The book I'm studying with often confronts me with exercises that involve solving reactions such as $$\ce{CA(OH)_2 + CO_2 -> ?}$$.

Now, most of the time, the questions are just repetitions of material that has been taught, that reaction in particular has been shown many times in the chapter before the questions, $$\ce{... -> CaCO_3 + H_2O}$$, but not explained.

When I look up such reactions on the Internet to try to understand, I mostly come across people who ask others to balance the equations for them. But that is not really interesting for me, as I find balancing a trivial mathematical task.

I am, however, failing to understand why this reaction (or many other reactions) happen the way they do. My book has also mentioned that you can combine two materials, like $$\ce{CO + H2}$$, in different ratios, under different temperatures, pressures, and with different catalysts, to get different results (methane, methanol, and many others).

So my question is -- when asked to solve a reaction, and given only the reactants (or possibly also other factors such as mentioned above), is there a mathematical principle to solve the reaction besides being completely familiarised with molecular orbital theory and quantum mechanics? Because so far, the only alternative I can see is memorising the reactions.

I realise this question is rather broad, and possibly there is no satisfying answer to it or any answer besides to go study quantum mechanics, but to provide some context, I'm a student at high school studying chemistry not as my main subject (so on a rather elementary level), and I'm looking for a perspective how to understand the material I learn and not memorise it.

The book I'm studying with often confronts me with exercises that involve solving reactions such as $$\ce{CA(OH)_2 + CO_2 -> ?}$$.

Now, most of the time, the questions are just repetitions of material that has been taught, that reaction in particular has been shown many times in the chapter before the questions, $$\ce{... -> CaCO_3 + H_2O}$$, but not explained.

When I look up such reactions on the Internet to try to understand, I mostly come across people who ask others to balance the equations for them. But that is not really interesting for me, as I find balancing a trivial mathematical task.

I am, however, failing to understand why this reaction (or many other reactions) happen the way they do. My book has also mentioned that you can combine two materials, like $$\ce{CO + H2}$$, in different ratios, under different temperatures, pressures, and with different catalysts, to get different results (methane, methanol, and many others).

So my question is -- when asked to solve a reaction, and given only the reactants (or possibly also other factors such as mentioned above), is there a mathematical principle (for example, relying on differences in electronegativity) to solve the reaction besides being completely familiarised with molecular orbital theory and quantum mechanics? Because so far, the only alternative I can see is memorising the reactions.

I realise this question is rather broad, and possibly there is no satisfying answer to it or any answer besides to go study quantum mechanics, but to provide some context, I'm a student at high school studying chemistry not as my main subject (so on a rather elementary level), and I'm looking for a perspective how to understand the material I learn and not memorise it.

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# How to deal with solving reactions with not enough background

The book I'm studying with often confronts me with exercises that involve solving reactions such as $$\ce{CA(OH)_2 + CO_2 -> ?}$$.

Now, most of the time, the questions are just repetitions of material that has been taught, that reaction in particular has been shown many times in the chapter before the questions, $$\ce{... -> CaCO_3 + H_2O}$$, but not explained.

When I look up such reactions on the Internet to try to understand, I mostly come across people who ask others to balance the equations for them. But that is not really interesting for me, as I find balancing a trivial mathematical task.

I am, however, failing to understand why this reaction (or many other reactions) happen the way they do. My book has also mentioned that you can combine two materials, like $$\ce{CO + H2}$$, in different ratios, under different temperatures, pressures, and with different catalysts, to get different results (methane, methanol, and many others).

So my question is -- when asked to solve a reaction, and given only the reactants (or possibly also other factors such as mentioned above), is there a mathematical principle to solve the reaction besides being completely familiarised with molecular orbital theory and quantum mechanics? Because so far, the only alternative I can see is memorising the reactions.

I realise this question is rather broad, and possibly there is no satisfying answer to it or any answer besides to go study quantum mechanics, but to provide some context, I'm a student at high school studying chemistry not as my main subject (so on a rather elementary level), and I'm looking for a perspective how to understand the material I learn and not memorise it.