Skip to main content

The reactivity series

The reactivity series

When metals react with other substances the metal atoms form positive ions.

More reactive metals form positive ions by loss of electrons when they react with other substances.

Metals can be arranged in order of their reactivity.

In a reactivity series, the most reactive element is placed at the top and the least reactive element at the bottom.

The metals potassium, sodium, lithium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper can be put in order of their reactivity from their reactions with water and dilute acids.

The non-metals hydrogen and carbon are often included in the reactivity series as they are useful in extracting metals from their oxides.

A more reactive metal will displace a less reactive metal from one of its compound.

Some metals react with water, either warm or cold, or with steam.

Reactive metals such as potassium, sodium, lithium and calcium all react quickly with cold water.

Less reactive metals such as magnesium, zinc and iron won’t react with water but will react with steam.

Unreactive metals such as copper, silver and gold won’t react with water.

Most metals react with dilute acids to produce a salt and hydrogen gas.

When metals react with oxygen a metal oxide is formed.

A displacement reaction is when a more reactive metal replaces a less reactive metal in a compound.

Oxidation is the loss of electrons and reduction is the gain of electrons.

Rust is formed when iron reacts with oxygen and water to form hydrated iron (III) oxide. Rusting is an oxidation reaction.

Comments