Metal hydroxides


  • Sodium hydroxide solution can be used to identify some metal ions (cations).

Solutions of aluminium, calcium and magnesium ions form white precipitates when sodium hydroxide solution is added but only the aluminium hydroxide precipitate dissolves in excess sodium hydroxide solution.

Solutions of copper(II), iron(II) and iron(III) ions form coloured precipitates when sodium hydroxide solution is added.

Copper(II) forms a blue precipitate, iron(II) a green precipitate and iron(III) a brown precipitate.

  • Students should be able to write balanced equations for the reactions to produce the insoluble hydroxides.

Students are not expected to write equations for the production of sodium aluminate

WS 2.2 Plan experiments or devise procedures to make observations, produce or characterise a substance, test hypotheses, check data or explore phenomena.

AT 8 Use of appropriate qualitative reagents and techniques to analyse and identify unknown samples or products including gas tests, flame tests, precipitation reactions, and the determination of concentrations of strong acids and strong alkalis (links to A-level AT d).