Every element in the periodic table has certain reactivity. The reactivity of metals is decided based on how much it reacts with water and dilute hydrochloric acid.

Water

The most reactive metals (Ranging from Potassium to Calcium) react with cold water violently.

Fairly reactive metals (Ranging from Magnesium to Iron) only react with warm water and steam.

The least reactive metals (Ranging from Tin to Platinum) don’t react at all.

Dilute acids

The most reactive metals (Ranging from Potassium to Calcium) react with dilute acid explosively and violently.

Fairly reactive metals (Ranging from Magnesium to Iron) react much less vigorously and their rate of reaction gradually decreases.

The least reactive metals (Ranging from Tin to Platinum) don’t react at all.

 

  Reaction with cold water Reaction with dilute acid Reaction with air/oxygen
Potassium Reacts violently to form metal hydroxide and hydrogen. Reacts explosively Tarnishes quickly to form a silvery surface
Sodium Reacts vigorously to form metal hydroxide and hydrogen. Reacts violently
Calcium Reacts less vigorously with cold water Reacts vigorously Rate of reaction decreases further down the reactivity series
Magnesium Reacts slowly; reacts faster if water is heated Reacts less vigorously
Aluminium Rate of reaction decreases further down the reactivity series Rate of reaction decreases further down the reactivity series
(Carbon)
Zinc
Iron
Lead
(Hydrogen)
Copper No reaction Do not react with dilute acids No reaction
Silver
Gold

 

Reactions in the Reactivity Series

An example of a reaction:

Calcium + copper(II) oxide → calcium oxide + copper

This is called a displacement reaction. Displacement means that one of the elements has been dis-placed out and is replaced by a more reactive element. Copper is less reactive than calcium, and so it has been displaced to form calcium oxide and copper. This reaction is irreversible, as copper isn’t reactive enough to be able to displace the magnesium.

 

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