Reactivity of metals Investigation

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Skill Area P: Planning and Investigating Procedures


For this task we are asked to investigate the reactivity of metals. We are asked to investigate into the following metals:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium

The above metals will be reacted with dilute hydrochloric acid. The metals react exothermically with dilute hydrochloric acid. The metals react and give off heat.

         We will have to bare in mind the factors that can vary the reactions between the metals and the acid.


We have to bare in mind the following variable factors of the experiment and work out what factors will affect the experiment:

  • Volume of acid
  • Mass of metal
  • Concentration of acid
  • Equipment
  • Starting temperature
  • Type of metal used

The type of metal should be the only variable factor that I will change during my experiment. I have chosen to only vary this factor because I don’t really need the other factors to create a good experiment.


This is a list of the apparatus that I will need to create an accurate experiment:

  • 1 Polystyrene cup
  • Thermometer
  • Plastic lid for the cup
  • 4 metals (Iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium)
  • Dilute bench acid (Hydrochloric acid – HCL)

The above apparatus will be cleaned out before use to create a fair test.


For safety reasons I will need to wear safety spectacles at all times when conducting my experiments. I will set up the apparatus on a Bunsen burner mat so that no chemicals leak onto the bench. This is because we will be dealing with hot substances and acid. Hydrochloric acid can be:






I set up the apparatus and placed it on a Bunsen burner mat so chemicals wouldn’t leak onto the bench. I weighed up the metals and measured up the volume of HCL that I was using. I poured the HCL into a polystyrene cup and then added the metal. I placed a plastic cover over the to with a little hole to allow the thermometer to fit in. I timed at 30-second intervals and recorded my results.

Reactivity of the metals

The reactivity series of metals is as follows:

  1. Potassium
  2. Sodium
  3. Lithium
  4. Calcium
  5. Magnesium
  6. Aluminium
  7. Zinc
  8. Iron
  9. Tin
  10. Lead
  11. Copper
  12. Silver
  13. Platinum
  14. Gold



I predict that calcium will give a more vigorous reaction and give off more heat. This is because calcium is higher up in the reactivity series than any other metal used in this experiment. Then I would imagine that magnesium would create the next largest reaction and give off heat. Following that will be zinc and then iron. I am predicting this information on the basis of the metals rank in the reactivity series.

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Fair Test

To create a fair test all metals will be measured by accurate scales. The metals will be cleaned with sand paper to create a fair test. The volume of HCL will be measured in a lab-measuring cylinder to make sure that the amount of acid is accurate. Apparatus will be cleaned out before use to that nothing gets contaminated. Contamination will cause the results to be inaccurate. Also to create a fair test when using the metals I only used them in powder form so that everything is the same. I repeated the experiment three times so ...

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