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Reactivity Series of Metals

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Reactivity Series of Metals When elements are placed in order of their chemical reactivity the sequence is known as an activity series. It is normally used only for metals, together with the non-metals carbon and hydrogen. The list is arrived at by comparing the reactions of these metals with oxygen, with water, and with dilute acid. The activity series is in fact a list of metals in order of the ease with which they form ions. The activity series is more commonly known as the reactivity series. The list of elements in order of their ability to lose electron (i.e. in order of their standard electrode potentials) is sometimes called the electrochemical series (E.C.S.). It is virtually the same as the reactivity series except it can be extended to include many other substances rather than just the metals, carbon and hydrogen. The hydrogen electrode is just one example of the way non-metals that are neither solids nor conductors can be included in the E.C.S. Calcium is included in the reactivity series but not in the E.C.S. This is because the electrode potential of calcium is not quite as expected from its chemical reactivity. ...read more.


Attacked by dilute acids. (Al is only attacked by dilute HCl). In practice the first 4 are too reactive to risk safely. Mg + 2HCl MgCl2 + H2 Mg + H2SO4 MgSO4 + H2 Pb H Cu Hg Forms oxide when heated in air. 2Cu + O2 2CuO Do not decompose in water or steam at red heat. Attacked by oxidizing acids e.g. Nitric Acid Ag Au Pt Unaffected by Oxygen. Unaffected by acid. This table which concerns the reactions of the elements with oxygen, water and dilute acids has placed the elements in order of decreasing reactivity as the table is descended. The order in which the elements are arranged with aspect to their relative reactivity is known as the reactivity series. It is a useful list to know and can be remember by the following mnemonic (learning aid). K Poteen Na Soda & Li Lime Ca Calms Mg Maggie Al Although C Carol Zn Zany Fe Iris + Sn Tim Pb Leap H High Cu Copper Hg Mercury Increasing Ag Silver Monetary Value Au Gold Pt Platinum Displacement Reactions of Metals When a piece of zinc is placed in copper (II) ...read more.


Potassium Sodium Lithium Calcium Magnesium Aluminium Zinc Iron Tin Lead Hydrogen Copper Mercury Silver Gold Platinum Extraction of Metals Metals low in the reactivity series, such as silver and gold, may be found free in nature (native state) but most metals occur as compounds in the form of metal ore. There are two main methods for extracting metals from their purified and concentrated ores: a) Reduction of the metal oxide by carbon (coke) b) Electrolysis of the molten chloride or oxide The oxides and sulphates of some metals near the bottom of the reactivity series are so unstable that they can be decomposed by the action of heat alone. The table below shows how the method of extraction is related to the position of the metal in the reactivity series. The higher the metal in the reactivity series the more severe or drastic the method of extraction needs to be. Metal Method Of Extraction Sodium Calcium Magnesium Aluminium Electrolysis of molten chloride or oxide. Zinc Iron Lead Reduction of the oxide by Coke in a blast furnace. Copper Thermal Decomposition of the sulphide in the presence of oxygen. ...read more.

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