Law of definite proportions

Joseph Proust (1754-1826) formulated the law of definite proportions (also called the Law of Constant Composition or Proust’s Law). This law states that if a compound is broken down into its constituent elements, the masses of the constituents will always have the same proportions, regardless of the quantity or source of the original substance. Joseph Proust based this law primarily on his experiments with basic copper carbonate.

Law of definite proportions states that in a given type of chemical substance, the elements are always combined in the same proportions by mass.

If compounds are made up of definite numbers of atoms, each of which has its own characteristic mass, then the relative mass of each element in a compound must always be the same. Thus the elements must always be present in a pure sample of a compound in the same proportions by mass.

The Law of Definite Proportions applies when elements are reacted together to form the same product. Therefore, while the Law of Definite Proportions can be used to compare two experiments in which hydrogen and oxygen react to form water, the Law of Definite Proportions can not be used to compare one experiment in which hydrogen and oxygen react to form water and another experiment in which hydrogen and oxygen react to form hydrogen peroxide (peroxide is another material that can be made from hydrogen and oxygen).

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