Equivalent (chemistry)

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The equivalent (symbol: eq ), sometimes termed the molar equivalent, is a unit of electrical charge used in chemistry and the biological sciences. It could be converted to Coulombs 'C' (SI unit) using Faraday's constant F in 'C/mol', where 1 'eq' = F 'C'.

The equivalent of substance A is the amount of substance A multiplied by its valence.

The equivalent could be also formally defined through the amount of substance which will either:

The mass of one equivalent of a substance is called its equivalent weight.

A historical definition, used especially for the chemical elements, describes an equivalent as the amount of a substance that will react with one gram of hydrogen, or with eight grams of oxygen, or with 35.5 grams (1.25 oz) of chlorine, or displaces any of the three.[3]

In practice, the amount of a substance in equivalents often has a very small magnitude, so it is frequently described in terms of milliequivalents (mEq or meq), the prefix milli denoting that the measure is divided by 1000. Very often, the measure is used in terms of milliequivalents of solute per litre of solvent (or milliNormal, where mEq/L = mN). This is especially common for measurement of compounds in biological fluids; for instance, the healthy level of potassium in the blood of a human is defined between 3.5 and 5.0 mEq/L.

A certain amount of univalent ions provides the same amount of equivalents while the same amount of divalent ions provides twice the amount of equivalents. For example, 1 mmol of Na+ is equal 1 mEq, while 1 mmol of Ca++ is equal 2 mEqs.


  1. ^ IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version:  (2006–) "equivalent entity".
  2. ^ International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (1998). Compendium of Analytical Nomenclature (definitive rules 1997, 3rd. ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Science. ISBN 0-86542-6155. section 6.3.
  3. ^ "Atome", Grand dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle 1, Paris: Pierre Larousse, 1866, pp. 868–73 . (French)

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