Chemical Equations

How-to and Examples

Matheus Froes avatar
Written by Matheus Froes
Updated over a week ago

Why Chemical Equations?

Chemical Equations were brought to Socrative to make the experience of questioning your students more seamless.

Teachers in the Sciences realm can enjoy chemical formulae and equations using the Equation Editor to display element symbols, superscript and subscript notation, ions and isotopes, bonds, equilibrium reaction arrows etc. - allowing a more flexible display and more natural input of chemical formulae and equations.

Using Chemical Equations

With the Equation Editor, you can use the mhchem notation to write Chemical Equations and Formulas, you can also insert math symbols and equations at the same time.

Chemical Equations have a descriptor to let the equation editor know your intent. To get started, write \ce{formulae}. The delimiter \ce{...} is required since you can use mathematics delimiters for chemical formulas.

Chemical Equation Notation


You can use the delimiter \ce(...) and insert your formula.

\ce{ H2O }

\ce{ (NH4)2S }


Place amounts directly in front of a formula. A small space will be inserted automatically.

\ce{ 2H2O }

\ce{ 1/2H2O }


\ce{CO2 + C -> 2 CO}

\ce{Hg^2+ ->[I-] HgI2 ->[I-] [Hg^{II}I4]^2-}






Stoichiometric numbers

\ce{2 H2O}


\ce{0.5 H2O}

\ce{1/2 H2O}

\ce{(1/2) H2O}

\ce{$n$ H2O}

Nuclides, isotopes

It might be ambiguous whether a superscript belongs to the left or right element. There is automatic detection (digits only = mass number = belongs to the right side), but to ensure it, you can type {} as a separator.

Although the below syntax works in most contexts, occasionally, a leading pair of braces {} may be required \ce{ {}^{227}_{90}Th+ }







Reaction arrows

Each arrow can take two optional arguments: one for above and one for below. The arrow arguments use the same input syntax as the \ce command.

\ce{A -> B}

\ce{A <- B}

\ce{A <-> B}

\ce{A <--> B}

\ce{A <=> B}

\ce{A <=>> B}

\ce{A <<=> B}

\ce{A ->[H2O] B}

upright text

\ce{A ->[{text above}][{text below}] B}

italic math

\ce{A ->[$x$][$x_i$] B}

Parentheses, brackets, braces

Use parentheses ( ) and brackets [ ] normally. Write braces as \{ \}. For large parentheses, \left and \right macros need to be in the same math environment, so you might have to put \ce into $ into \ce, but that’s fine.



Variables like x, n, 2n+1

If a more complex term is not properly recognized, you can switch to math mode (= italics) explicitly.



\ce{x Na(NH4)HPO4 ->[\Delta] (NaPO3)_x + x NH3 ^ + x H2O}


The Equation Editor tries to differentiate whether \ce{-} should be a bond, a charge or a hyphen.





Not Supported


Not Supported




Addition compounds

You can use * or . to sum compounds



\ce{KCr(SO4)2 * 12 H2O}

Oxidation states


Equation operators

\ce{A + B

\ce{A - B}

not to be confused with bonds

\ce{A = B}

not to be confused with bonds

\ce{A \pm B}

Precipitate and gas

Use v or (v) for precipitate (arrow down) and ^ or (^) for gas (arrow up), both separated by spaces.

\ce{SO4^2- + Ba^2+ -> BaSO4 v}

\ce{A v B (v) -> B ^ B (^)}

Unpaired electrons, radical dots



Kröger-vink notation (not supported for latex yet)





upright V = Vanadium, italic V = vacancy


Unsupported Chemical Notations

  • We don’t fully support:

    • States of aggregation

    • Crystal systems

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