4.4.1.2

4.4.1.2 The reactivity series

Content

  • When metals react with other substances the metal atoms form positive ions. The reactivity of a metal is related to its tendency to form positive ions. Metals can be arranged in order of their reactivity in a reactivity series. 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.

A more reactive metal can displace a less reactive metal from a compound.

Students should be able to:

  • recall and describe the reactions, if any, of potassium, sodium, lithium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper with water or dilute acids and where appropriate, to place these metals in order of reactivity
  • explain how the reactivity of metals with water or dilute acids is related to the tendency of the metal to form its positive ion
  • deduce an order of reactivity of metals based on experimental results.
  • The reactions of metals with water and acids are limited to room temperature and do not include reactions with steam.



AT 6 Safe use and careful handling of gases, liquids and solids, including careful mixing of reagents under controlled conditions, using appropriate apparatus to explore chemical changes and/or products (links to A-level AT a and k).