The reactivity series is based on the reaction of metals with water or dilute hydrochloric acid.

  • A metal high up in the reactivity series:
  • reacts vigorously with chemicals eg water
  • readily gives up electrons to form positive ions
  • corrode easily
  • A metal low down in the reactivity series;
  • reacts less with chemicals
  • does not readily gives up electrons to form positive ions
  • does not corrode easily
  • Metals below hydrogen in the series do not react with acids to produce hydrogen gas.

 

Order of reactivity series

  1. Potassium
  2. Sodium
  3. Calcium
  4. Magnesium
  5. Aluminum
  6. Zinc
  7. Iron
  8. Lead
  9. Hydrogen
  10. Copper
  11. Silver
  12. Gold

Reactivity series Rxn with H2O / steam Rxn with dil HCl
Potassium
Sodium
React violently with cold water explosive reaction
Calcium reacts quickly with cold water very vigorous rxn
Magnesium very slowly with cold water/ rapidly with steam to form oxide very vigorous rxn
Zinc
Iron
React when heated in steam .do not react with cold water Reacts
Hydrogen
Copper Does not react with steam/water metals below H2 do not react with dil acids

Reaction of K(s), Na(s) and Ca(s) with cold water

  • Metal + water → Metal hydroxide + Hydrogen

Reaction of Mg(s), Zn(s) and Fe(s) with steam

  • Metal + Water → Metal Oxide + Hydrogen
  • iron does not react with water
  • copper and gold hve no reations with water and steam

 

Reaction of K(s), Na(s), Ca(s), Mg(s), Zn(s), and Fe(s) with dilute hydrochloric acid

  • Metal + Acid → Metal chloride + Hydrogen
  • lead reacts with warm HCl slowly
  • copper and gold have no reaction

 

Displacement reactions

it is the displacement of ions of metal from compounds of metal lower in reactivity series by metals higher in reactivity series.

  • when magnesium powder and copper (II) oxide powder is heated there is a vigorous exothermic reaction. The magnesium takes oxygen from copper (II) oxide to from magnesium oxide and copper metal.
  • Mg(s) + CuO(s) → MgO(s) + Cu(s)
  • Hydrogen can take oxygen from metallic oxides, producing the metal and water
  • PbO (s) + H2(g) &→ Pb(s) + H2O(l)
  • Carbon can take up oxygen from the oxide of metals which are not too high in the reactivity series.
  • 2CuO(s) + C(s) → 2Cu(s) + CO2(g)

 

Uses of reactivity series

  • The thermite processes
  • The sacrificial protection of iron
  • Galvanizing
  • Making cells (batteries)

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