An empirical formula is a chemical formula which describes a whole number ratio for the atoms in a molecule. An empirical formula indicates only the ratio, not the number of each kind of atom in the molecule. For example, hexane has six carbon atoms and fourteen hydrogen atoms. Its molecular formula is thus C6H14, but its empirical formula is C3H7. The empirical formula is used in certain kinds of experimental chemical analysis, which can show the ratio or relative number of atoms in the molecule, but not necessarily the actual number of atoms in the molecule.
- Wile, Jay L. Exploring Creation With Chemistry. Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. 1998.