Step 1: Try to balance the atoms in the equation by inspection, that is, by the
standard technique for balancing non-redox equations.
(Many equations for redox reactions can be easily balanced by inspection.) If
you successfully balance the atoms, go to Step 2. If you are unable to balance
the atoms, go to Step 3.
Step 2: Check to be sure that the net charge is the same on both sides of the
equation. If it is, you can assume that the equation is correctly balanced. If
the charge is not balanced, go to Step 3.
Step 3: If you have trouble balancing the atoms and the charge by inspection,
determine the oxidation numbers for the atoms in the formula, and use them to
decide whether the reaction is a redox reaction. If it is not redox, return to
Step 1 and try again. If it is redox, go to Step 4.
Step 4: Determine the net increase in oxidation number for the element that is
oxidized and the net decrease in oxidation number for the element that is
Step 5: Determine a ratio of oxidized to reduced atoms that would yield a net
increase in oxidation number equal to the net decrease in oxidation number (a
ratio that makes the number of electrons lost equal to the number of electrons
Step 6: Add coefficients to the formulas so as to obtain the correct ratio of the
atoms whose oxidation numbers are changing. (These coefficients are usually
placed in front of the formulas on the reactant side of the arrow.)
Step 7: Balance the rest of the equation by inspection.