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QUESTION

# Is the molar mass of oxygen 16 or 32?

Oxygen Atom ~~ 16 Oxygen Gas (that we inhale) ~~32

This question is quite confusing considering that we tend to refer to oxygen (the element with symbol O) and to the oxygen (the gas we inhale O_2) using the same term.

Since oxygen the element consist only of 1 atom of Oxygen, then we will use the atomic weight of oxygen for this mass (mass_O ~~ 16). However since oxygen rarely exists as purely a single atom, we say that the molar mass of oxygen is 32 or mass_(O_2) = 32 g/(mol).

Now when computing for empirical formula sample problems, use 16 g/(mol) since it corresponds to the mass of 1 atom of oxygen. Just remember to multiply the value to the subscript of Oxygen when you need to determine the molar masses of the you need to compute for.