When determining the formula of a compound, why do we divide by the smallest number of moles once we already have calculated the number of moles for each element in order to find the empirical formua of a given compound?


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    $\begingroup$ Because we don't like to have too many decimal fractions hanging around. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Jul 10 '18 at 12:01

The empirical formula is the simplest positive integer ratio of the atoms that are present. Thus, by dividing by the smallest number, we obtain the simplest whole number ratio of atoms.


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