GCSE & A level Chemistry: Calculating percentage yield, why never 100% in practice

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Theoretical and % yield calculations & reasons why you never get 100% yield

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Doc Brown's Chemistry - GCSE/IGCSE/GCE (basic A level) O Level  Online percentage yield Chemical Calculations

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soluble salt preparation from insoluble base-acid neutralisationKeywords: Quantitative chemistry calculations Help for problem solving in doing % yield calculations. How do you calculate % yield? How to calculate the percentage yield of a chemical reaction is explained with worked out examples. Explaining what we mean by % yield calculations based on theoretical yield versus actual yield. Online practice exam chemistry CALCULATIONS and solved problems for KS4 Science GCSE/IGCSE CHEMISTRY and basic starter chemical calculations for A level AS/A2/IB courses. These revision notes and practice questions on how to do percentage yield chemical calculations and worked examples should prove useful for the new AQA, Edexcel and OCR GCSE (91) chemistry science courses.

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14.1 % purity of a product and assay calculations

14.2b atom economy calculations  *  14.3 dilution of solutions calculations  *  14.4 water of crystallisation calculations

14.5 how much of a reactant is needed? calculation of quantities required, limiting reactant quantities

Chemical & Pharmaceutical Industry Economics & Sustainability, Life Cycle Assessment, Recycling

14.2a Percentage yield of the product of a reaction

Even though no atoms are gained or lost in a chemical reaction (law of conservation of mass), unfortunately it is never possible to obtain the calculated amount of a product (i.e. 100% yield) because:

(i) the reaction may not go to completion because it may be reversible,

(ii) some of the product may be lost when it is separated from the reaction mixture (eg via crystallisation or distillation),

(iii) some of the reactants may react in ways different to the expected reaction (side reactions to give bye-products which may be unwanted or useful).

The amount of a product you actually obtain is known as the yield.

When compared with the maximum theoretical amount calculated as a percentage, it is called the percentage yield.

You should be able to calculate the percentage yield of a product from the actual yield of a reaction or calculate the theoretical mass of a product from a given mass of reactant given the balanced equation for the reaction.

In industrial processes of the chemical industry, the reactions with highest yield are going to be the most economic and produce the least waste that has to be dealt with.

  • YIELD The actual yield is the mass of useful product you get from a chemical reaction and this actual yield can be compared with the maximum theoretical yield if everything could be done perfectly, which you can't!

  • The % yield of a reaction is defined as the percentage of the product obtained compared to the theoretical maximum (predicted) yield calculated from the balanced equation.

    • You get the predicted maximum theoretical yield from a reacting mass calculation (see examples further down).

    • The comparison of the actual yield and the theoretical maximum yield can be expressed as the percentage yield.

                        ACTUAL YIELD (e.g. in grams, kg, tonnes)


      100 x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      PREDICTED theoretical YIELD (same mass units as above)
    • In carrying out a chemical preparation, the aim is to work carefully and recover as much of the desired reaction product as you can, and as pure as is possible and practicable.

      • Despite the law of conservation of mass, i.e. no atoms lost or gained, in real chemical preparations things cannot work out completely according to chemical theory, often for quite simple, physical or sometimes chemical reasons,

      • and it doesn't matter if its a small scale school laboratory preparation or a large scale industrial manufacturing process, in reality. the percent yield is never 100%.

      • You may need to use the rearranged equation i.e. change of equation subject ...

      • e.g. 100 x Actual Yield = % Yield X Theoretical Yield

      • so, Actual Yield (mass) = % Yield X Theoretical Yield (mass) / 100

    • In industry, you want the highest possible yield to reduce costs and have less uneconomic waste.

  • REASONS why you never get 100 percent yield of the desired product in chemical reaction preparations

  • LOSSES So, in any chemical process, it is almost impossible to get 100% of the product because of many reasons: Four reasons why you do not get a 100% yield in a chemical reaction are described and explained below.

    1. The reaction might not be 100% due to an equilibrium

      • The reaction may not be completed because it is reversible reaction and an equilibrium is established (note  thesign in the equation below.

      • Both reactants and products co-exist in the same reaction mixtures (solutions or gases) i.e. the reaction can never go to completion.

        • A good example of this is the preparation of an ester, you only get 2/3rds conversion for this incomplete reaction, and then there will be other losses in isolating and purifying the product.

        • ethanoic acid + ethanol ethyl ethanoate + water
        • + + H2O
        • For more details see Ester Preparation
      • In the Haber Synthesis of ammonia the conversion of hydrogen and nitrogen to ammonia is only about 6-15% depending on the reactor temperature and pressure.
        • N2(g) + 3H2(g) (c) doc b 2NH3(g)
        • BUT, it isn't all bad news, the ammonia is quite easily condensed out from the reaction mixture and the nitrogen and hydrogen gases are recycled through the reactor, so there is very little waste.
      • -
    2. You always get losses of the desired product when separating out the product

      • There are always losses when the product is separated from the reaction mixture by filtration, distillation, crystallisation or whatever method is required e.g.

      • Bits of solid or droplets are left behind on the sides of the apparatus or reactor vessel e.g. in the reaction flask, filter funnel and paper when recovering the product from the reaction mixture or transferring a liquid from one container to another.

      • Small amounts of liquid will be left in distillation units or solid particles on the surface of filtration units.

      • In fact, whenever you have to manipulate or transfer the product in some way, there are bound to be residual losses somewhere in the laboratory apparatus or a full-scale chemical plant.

      • If the product is a volatile liquid, there will be losses due to evaporation.

      • You cannot avoid losing traces of product in all stages of the manufacturing process.

      • See Four techniques used in a particular and separation and purification procedure,

      • DISTILLATION  and  Separating funnel, solvent extraction, centrifuging

      • where these sort of losses may be encountered.

      • -

    3. Some of the reactants may react in another way to give a different product

      • Other reactions might take place to the one you want (so-called by-products).

      • By-products are very common in organic chemistry due to different, but con-current, reactions.

      • (i) A + B ==> C + D

        • (i) The main reaction to give the main desired products C or D, or both.

      • (ii) A + B ==> E + F

        • A con-current reaction, maybe just involving a few % of the reactants to give the minor, and often undesirable, by-products of E + F.

        • Sometimes the by-products can be separated as a useful product and sold to help the economics of the chemical process overall.

      • -

    4. The original reactants might not be pure.

      • You can't make the desired product from the wrong chemicals - unwanted chemicals in your initial reactants.

      • When you measure out the reactants, you are not taking into account any impurities, so your yield will be automatically reduced because of the wrong chemical has been added to the reaction vessel.

  • The aim is to work as carefully as possible and recover as much of the desired reaction product, and as pure as is possible and practicable

    • If a chemical reaction gives a low percentage yield of useful product, research would be undertaken to find ways the reaction can been improved to increase the yield of useful product.
    • It might be possible to find another synthetic route to produce a particular chemical that gives a higher percentage yield and less waste (see also Atom Economy).
  • % yield = actual amount of desired chemical obtained x 100 / maximum theoretical amount that could be formed

    • If the reaction doesn't work the yield is zero or 0%.

    • If the reaction works perfectly and you obtain all the product, the yield is 100%, BUT this never happens in reality (as already discussed above).

    • The theoretical yield can be calculated from the balanced equation by doing a reacting mass ratio calculation.

  • Yield and industrial production

    • The higher the yield of a reaction, the more economic is the process.

    • There will be less waste to deal with and dispose of, which involves extra cost.

    • Waste is of no commercial value and may be harmful to people and the environment.

    • High yields means less energy used, saving money.

    • Research chemists in the chemical industry are always looking for the most efficient (cost effective) of making a particular product and the main criteria being ...

      • A high yield reaction, particularly if the raw materials are expensive, and the resource may not be infinite!

      • that goes as fast as possible - a good economic rate,

      • all of the products are commercially viable, so can even by-products be converted to some saleable chemical as well as the main desired product.


Note: If there is only one product in the reaction, the atom economy is theoretically 100%

(i) Haber synthesis of ammonia

N2(g)  +  3H2(g)  ===>  2NH3(g)

(ii) The addition of bromine to an alkene

CH2=CH2  +  Br2  ===> BrCH2-CH2Br

(iii) Burning a metal to form its oxide

Mg(s)  +  O2(g)  ===>  2MgO

BUT remember, this is NOT the yield, there are always losses!

You should understand the % yield calculation must be based on the reactant NOT in excess.

Examples (1) to (6) do NOT involve moles.

From example (7) onwards moles are involved and are more suitable for advanced level chemistry students

BASIC CALCULATIONS (1) to (5), but you must be able to do reacting mass calculations

  • % yield calculation Example 14.2a (1)  (reduction of copper oxide with hydrogen)

    • CuO  + H2  ==>  Cu  +  H2O
    • Copper(II) oxide can be reduced to copper by heating the oxide carefully in a stream of oxygen.
    • 5.0 g of copper(II) oxide where heated in oxygen until there appeared to be no more change in colour.
    • Any unreacted copper(II) oxide was dissolved in dilute sulfuric acid and the copper filtered off, dried and weighed.
    • Using the atomic masses: Cu = 63.5,  H = 1,  O =16
    • Formula masses: CuO = 79.5,  H2 = 2,  Cu = 63.5,  H2O = 18
    • (a) Calculate the maximum quantity of copper you could obtain.
      • The relevant ratio is CuO ==> Cu
      • which is 79.5 ==> 63.5
      • Therefore scaling down to 5 g of the oxide ...
      • the maximum yield of Cu = 5 x 63.5/79.5 = 3.99 g (2 dp, 3 sf)
      • -
    • (b) If 3.91 g of copper was actually obtained, calculate the percentage yield of the reaction.
      • % yield = 100 x actual yield / theoretical maximum yield
      • % yield = 100 x 3.91 / 3.99
      • % yield of Cu = 98.0% (3 sf, 1 dp)
      • -
  • % yield calculation Example 14.2a (2)  (dissolving magnesium in hydrochloric acid)

    • Magnesium metal dissolves in hydrochloric acid to form magnesium chloride.

    • Mg(s) + 2HCl(aq) ==> MgCl2(aq) + H2(g)

    • Atomic masses : Mg = 24 and Cl = 35.5, and formula mass MgCl2 = 24 + (2 x 35.5) = 95

    • (a) What is the maximum theoretical mass of anhydrous magnesium chloride which can be made from 12g of magnesium?

      • Reacting mass ratio calculation from the balanced equation:

      • 1 Mg ==> 1 MgCl2, so 24g ==> 95g or 12g ==> 47.5g MgCl2

    • (b) If only 47.0g of purified anhydrous magnesium chloride was obtained after crystallising the salt from the solution and heating it to drive off the water of crystallisation, what is the % yield from the salt preparation?

      • % yield = actual amount obtained x 100 / maximum theoretical amount possible

      • % yield = 47.0 x 100 / 47.5 = 98.9% (to 1dp, 3sf)

    • More examples of % yield and atom economy calculations in section 6.

    • -

  • % yield calculation Example 14.2a (3)  (making iron sulfide from iron and sulfur)

    • 2.8g of iron was heated with excess sulphur to form iron(II) sulphide.

    • Fe + S ==> FeS

    • The excess sulphur was dissolved in a solvent and the iron sulphide filtered off, washed with clean solvent and dried.

    • If 4.1g of purified iron sulphide was finally obtained, what was the % yield of the reaction?

    • 1st a reacting mass calculation of the maximum amount of FeS that can be formed:

      • Relative atomic/formula masses: Fe =56, FeS = 56 + 32 = 88

      • This means 56g Fe ==> 88g FeS, or by ratio, 2.8g Fe ==> 4.4g FeS

      • because 2.8 is 1/20th of 56, so theoretically you can get 1/20th of 88g of FeS or 4.4g.

    • 2nd the % yield calculation itself.

      • % yield = actual amount obtained x 100 / maximum theoretical amount possible

      • % yield = 4.1 x 100 / 4.4 = 93.2% (to 1dp, 3sf)

    • More examples of % yield and atom economy calculations in section 6.

    • -

  • % yield calculation Example 14.2a (4)  (reduction of haematite iron ore in a blast furnace)

    • (a) Theoretically how much iron can be obtained from 1000 tonne of pure haematite ore, formula Fe2O3 in a blast furnace?

    • If we assume the iron(III) oxide ore (haematite) is reduced by carbon monoxide, the equation is:

    • Fe2O3(s) + 3CO(g) ==> 2Fe(l) + 3CO2(g)

    • (atomic masses: Fe = 56, O = 16)

    • For every Fe2O3 ==> 2Fe can be extracted, formula mass of ore = (2 x 56) + (3 x 56) = 160

    • Therefore reacting mass ratio is: 160 ==> 112 (from 2 x 56)

    • so, solving the ratio, 1000 ==> 112 / 160 = 700 tonne copper = max. can be extracted

  • % yield calculation Example 14.2a (5)  (burning magnesium in air/oxygen)

    • Given the atomic masses: Mg = 24 and O = 16,

    • and the reaction between magnesium to form magnesium oxide is given by the symbol equation

    • 2Mg(s) + O2(g) ==> 2MgO(s)

    • (a) What mass of magnesium oxide can be made from 1.00g of magnesium?

      • 2Mg ==> 2MgO

      • in terms of reacting masses (2 x 24) ==> {2 x (24 +16)}

      • so 48g Mg ==> 80g MgO (or 24g ==> 40g, its all the same)

      • therefore solving the ratio

      • 1g Mg ==> w g MgO, using the ratio 48 : 80

      • w = 1 x 80 / 48 = 1.67g MgO  (3 sf)

    • (b) Suppose the % yield in the reaction is 80%. That is only 80% of the magnesium oxide formed is actually recovered as useful product. How much magnesium needs to be burned to make 30g of magnesium oxide?

      • This is a bit tricky and needs to done in two stages and can be set out in several ways.

      • Now 48g Mg ==> 80g MgO (or any ratio mentioned above)

      • so y g Mg ==> 30g MgO

      • y = 30 x 48 / 80 = 18g Mg

      • BUT you only get back 80% of the MgO formed,

      • so therefore you need to take more of the magnesium than theoretically calculated above.

      • Therefore for practical purposes you need to take, NOT 18g Mg, BUT ...

      • ... since you only get 80/100 th's of the product ...

      • ... you need to use 100/80 th's of the reactants in the first place

      • therefore Mg needed = 18g x 100 / 80 = 22.5g Mg (3sf)

      • CHECK: reacting mass calculation + % yield calculation CHECK:

        • 22.5 Mg ==> z MgO, z = 22.5 x 80 / 48 = 37.5g MgO,

        • but you only get 80% of this,

        • so you actually get 37.5 x 80 / 100 = 30g

        • This means in principle that if you only get x% yield ...

        • ... you need to take 100/x quantities of reactants to compensate for the losses.

    • -

  • % yield calculation Example 14.2a (5)  (Haber synthesis of ammonia)

    • In laboratory experiments to improve the catalyst used to synthesise, the best catalyst produced a yield of 20.0% at a particular temperature and pressure.

    • In the industrial sized plant, what yield of ammonia would be obtained after 8.00 tonne of nitrogen passed through the reactor vessel?

      • Relative atomic masses: N = 14.0;  H =1.00

      • The equation is:

      • N2(g) + 3H2(g) (c) doc b 2NH3(g)
      • From the equation the reacting mass ratio of N2 : 2NH3 is (2 x 14) : (2 x 17); 28 : 34
      • Scaling up: The theoretical maximum yield of ammonia is 8.0 x 34 / 28 = 9.714
      • % yield = 100 x (actual / theoretical),
      • so, actual yield = (% yield x theoretical yield) / 100
      • Since the % yield is 20%, you would make (20 x 9.714) / 100 = 1.94 tonne (3 sf)

MORE ADVANCED CALCULATIONS from (6) onwards, but you must be familiar with moles related to equations and moles related to gas volumes, otherwise you can't proceed to calculate a yield from the theoretical 100% yield.

REMEMBER: The % yield calculation must be based on the reactant NOT in excess

(6) involves using the molar volume

(7) and (8) involve reacting mass calculations, though they can be solved using mole ratios (a simpler way?)

(9) to (11) involve problem solving using the mole ratio from the reaction equation.

  • % yield calculation Example 14.2a (6)  (reaction of impure limestone with hydrochloric acid)

    •  0.400g of an impure sample limestone produced 92.5 cm3 of carbon dioxide at 25oC and 101kPa laboratory pressure.
    • Given: The molar gas volume is 24.0 dm3 at 25oC and 101kPa.
      • Relative atomic masses: Ca = 40.0;  C = 12.0;  O = 16.0;  Cl = 35.5
    • (a) Give the equation for the reaction of hydrochloric acid with calcium carbonate.
      • CaCO3(s)  + 2HCl(aq)  ====>  CaCl2(aq)  + H2O(l)  +  CO2(g)
    • (b) Calculate the maximum mass of carbon dioxide that could be formed if the limestone was pure calcium carbonate.
      • The reaction mass ratio involved is CaCO3 : CO2; 100 :  44 (I assume you can work this out)
      • Therefore scaling down: maximum theoretical yield of CO2 = 0.400 x 44 / 100 = 0.176 g
    • (c) From the gas volume, calculate the mass of carbon dioxide formed
      • 1 mol gas 24.0 dm3 ≡ 24000 cm3
      • mol CO2 = 92.5 / 24000 = 0.003854
      • mass CO2 = mol CO2 x Mr(CO2) = 0.003854 x 44 = 0.1696 g = 0.170 g (3 sf)
    • (d) Calculate the purity of the limestone from your answer to (b) and (c).
      • The relative quantity of CO2 actually formed is directly related to the actual amount of calcium carbonate in the limestone sample.
      • Therefore % purity = 100 x mass of CO2 formed / theoretical mass of CO2
      • % purity = 100 x 0.170 / 0.176 = 96.6% (3 sf)
    • (e) Suggest one important assumption you have made in your calculation (d).
      • If the impurity was another carbonate e.g. magnesium carbonate, you don't know where some of the carbon dioxide came from!
  • % yield calculation Example 14.2a (7)  (organic synthesis of aspirin)

    • (c) doc b  +  (c) doc b  ===>  (c) doc b  +  (c) doc b

    • This example relates to an organic preparation (apologies for inconsistent formulae style - working on it!).

    • 2-hydroxybenzoic acid + ethanoic anhydride ==> 2-ethanoylhydroxybenzoic acid + ethanoic acid

    • salicylic acid ==> acetylsalicylic acid in 'old money'!

    • Assume you start with 2.0 g of 2-hydroxybenzoic acid.

    • (a) Why might it be normal to use an excess of the ethanoic anhydride? Why is it NOT the limiting reactant?

    • (b) Calculate the molar masses of the principal reactant and product (Ar's C = 12.0, H = 1.0, O =16.0):

      • HOC6H4COOH (C7H6O3 138====>  HOOCC6H4OCOCH3 (C9H8O4 180)

    • (c) Calculate the maximum theoretical yield of the product.

      • Scaling up from 138 to 180,

      • from 2.0 g of 2-hydroxybenzoic acid you can theoretically make

      •  2.0 x 180 / 138 =  2.61 g of 2-ethanoylhydroxybenzoic acid

    • (d) Suppose, after separation of the product and recrystallisation, you end up with 1.9 g of dry pure crystals,

      • Calculate the reaction yield.

      • % yield = 100 x actual yield / theoretical yield = 100 x 1.90 / 2.61 = 72.8% ~72% (2 sf)

    •  (e) What is a simple physical test of purity of the product?

      • The melting point should be sharp and match the value in the data book.

    • (f) In a few sentences indicate how you could accurately analyse the product crystals for % purity.

  • Percentage yield calculation Example 8. (The fermentation of sugar to make ethanol ('alcohol'))
    • The overall fermentation reaction is:
    • glucose (sugar) == enzyme ==> ethanol + carbon dioxide
    • C6H12O6(aq) ==> 2C2H5OH(aq) + 2CO2(g) 
    • (a) Calculate the relative mass ratio of useful product to reactant.
      • Relative atomic masses: C = 12.0,   H = 1.0   and   O = 16.0
      • formula mass of glucose reactant = 180 (6x12 + 12x1 + 6x16)
      • formula mass of ethanol product = 46 (2x12 + 5x1 + 1x16 + 1x1)
      • relative mass of desired useful product in the equation = 2 x 46 = 92
      • Useful product/reactant ratio = 92 / 180 = 0.511
    • (b) If 0.400 kg of glucose is fermented, what is the maximum mass of ethanol that could be made?
      • 0.4 kg = 400 g
      • So, scaling down: 400 x 0.511 = 204 g ethanol (3sf)
    • (c) After fractional distillation to separate the ethanol from the fermented mixture 170g of a clear liquid was obtained consisting of 95% ethanol and 5% of water (from gas chromatography analysis).
      • Calculate the percentage yield of the fermentation reaction
      • The actual mass of ethanol obtained = 170 x 0.95 = 162 g only (because of 5% water)
      • % yield = 100 x actual mass of product / theoretical mass of product = 100 x 162 / 204 = 79.4% (2 sf)

Percentage yield calculation using moles

Percentage yield calculation example (9): Aspirin preparation

3.50 g of 2-hydroxybenzoic acid was reacted with excess ethanoic anhydride to yield aspirin and ethanoic acid.

Simplified equation: HO-C6H4-COOH  +  (CH3CO)2O  ===>  CH3CO-C6H4-COOH  +  CH3COOH

After the final crystallisation and drying procedures, 3.90 g of aspirin was obtained.

Calculate the percentage yield of aspirin from the preparation.

(a) Calculate the molar masses of 2-hydroxybenzoic acid and aspirin

Mr of HO-C6H4-COOH = 138   and  Mr CH3CO-C6H4-COOH  =  180

that is 138 g/mol  and  180 g/mol

(b) Calculate the moles of 2-hydroxybenoic acid used in the preparation

mol acid = 3.50/138 = 0.02536

(c) Calculate the theoretical mass for 100% yield

Note the % yield calculation must be based on the reactant NOT in excess.

The mole ratio of reactant to product is 1:1

Therefore maximum yield of aspirin is 0.02536 mol.

Therefore the maximum mass of aspirin that can be formed is:

mol x molar mass = 0.02536 x 180 = 4.565 g

(d) Calculate the % yield

% yield = 100 x actual yield / maximum theoretical yield = 100 x 3.90 / 4.565 = 85.4 %


Percentage yield calculation example (10): Dehydration of an alcohol

Refluxing propan-2-ol with conc. sulfuric acid yields propene gas with a typical yield of 70%.

If 5.0 g of propan-2-ol is refluxed with conc. sulfuric acid, what volume of propene is formed?

 (Gas volume measured at 298 K and 101 kPa  and  molar volume 24 dm3/24000 cm3)

Equation: CH3CH(OH)CH3  ===> CH3CH=CH2  +  H2O

(a) Calculate the molecular mass of propan-2-ol and moles of it used in the preparation

Mr = CH3CH(OH)CH3 = 60, therefore moles of propan-2-ol used = 5.0 / 60 = 0.08333 mol

(b) Calculate the maximum volume of propene that can be formed

The mole ratio for reactant : product from the equation is 1 : 1,

therefore the maximum theoretical yield of propene is 0.08333 mol,

max. volume = mol x molar volume = 0.08333 x 24000 = 2000 cm3.

(c) Calculate the actual volume of propene gas that will be formed in the preparation.

therefore for a 70% yield, volume propene formed is 2000 x 70 / 100 = 1400 cm3


Percentage yield calculation example (11): Bromination of phenol

Phenol readily reacts with an aqueous solution of bromine to give a white precipitate of 2,4,6-tribromophenol.

When 6.00 g of phenol was reacted with excess bromine water, and, after filtration, recrystallisation in ethanol and drying, 19.5 g of 2,4,6-tribromophenol crystals were obtained.

Calculate the % yield of product.

balanced equation diagram of phenol reacting with bromine water to form 2,4,6-tribromophenol advanced organic chemistry

(a) Calculate the molar masses of phenol and 2,4,6-tribromophenol.

Mr C6H5OH = 94  and  Mr Br3C6H2OH = 331

Molar mass of 94 g/mol  and  331 g/mol

(c) Calculate moles of phenol used in the preparation

mol phenol = 6.0 / 94 = 0.06383

(b) Calculate the maximum theoretical yield of product.

From the equation reactant :  product mole ratio i 1 : !.

Therefore maximum moles of product 0.06383

Max. mole product = mol x formula mass = 0.6383 x 331 = 21.13 g

(c) Calculate the % yield of the 2,4,6-tribromophenol.

% yield = 100 x actual yield / theoretical maximum yield = 100 x 19.5 / 21.13 = 92.3%


Percentage yield calculation example (12): An esterification reaction

41.0 g of ethanoic acid was refluxed with 55.0 g of butan-1-ol and an acid catalyst to synthesise the ester butyl ethanoate. The equation is:


After separation of the product and fractional distillation, 55.0 g of the ester was obtained.

Calculate the % yield, but on which quantity is the calculation based?

(a) Calculate the molar masses of reactants and organic product. (C= 12, H =1, O = 16)

Mr CH3COOH = 60;  Mr CH3CH2CH2CH2OH = 74;  Mr CH3COOCH2CH2CH2CH3 = 116

(b) Calculate the moles of each reactant

mol CH3COOH = 41/60 = 0.683;  mol CH3CH2CH2CH2OH = 55/74 = 0.743

(c) Calculate the mol of product, and from (b) deduce what the % yield calculation is based on.

mol product = 55/116 = 0.474

From (b) the alcohol is in excess, so the % yield calculation must be based on the acid.

Theoretical moles of product = mol of acid = 0.683

Therefore % yield = 0.474 x 100 / 0.683 = 69%

I've added some % yield calculations to the Reacting mass ratio calculations of reactants and products from equations page, and see also

Chemical & Pharmaceutical Industry Economics & Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment

Products of the Chemical & Pharmaceutical Industries & impact on us

The Principles & Practice of Chemical Production - Synthesising Molecules  


Above is typical periodic table used in GCSE science-chemistry specifications in doing chemical calculations, and I've 'usually' used these values in my exemplar calculations to cover most syllabuses


  1. What is relative atomic mass?, relative isotopic mass and calculating relative atomic mass

  2. Calculating relative formula/molecular mass of a compound or element molecule

  3. Law of Conservation of Mass and simple reacting mass calculations

  4. Composition by percentage mass of elements in a compound

  5. Empirical formula and formula mass of a compound from reacting masses (easy start, not using moles)

  6. Reacting mass ratio calculations of reactants and products from equations (NOT using moles) and brief mention of actual percent % yield and theoretical yield, atom economy and formula mass determination

  7. Introducing moles: The connection between moles, mass and formula mass - the basis of reacting mole ratio calculations (relating reacting masses and formula mass)

  8. Using moles to calculate empirical formula and deduce molecular formula of a compound/molecule (starting with reacting masses or % composition)

  9. Moles and the molar volume of a gas, Avogadro's Law

  10. Reacting gas volume ratios, Avogadro's Law and Gay-Lussac's Law (ratio of gaseous reactants-products)

  11. Molarity, volumes and solution concentrations (and diagrams of apparatus)

  12. How to do acid-alkali titration calculations, diagrams of apparatus, details of procedures

  13. Electrolysis products calculations (negative cathode and positive anode products)

  14. Other calculations e.g. % purity, % percentage & theoretical yield, dilution of solutions (and diagrams of apparatus), water of crystallisation, quantity of reactants required, atom economy

  15. Energy transfers in physical/chemical changes, exothermic/endothermic reactions

  16. Gas calculations involving PVT relationships, Boyle's and Charles Laws

  17. Radioactivity & half-life calculations including dating materials


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