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June 22 2011 4 22 /06 /June /2011 13:14

Warning: Hydrochloric acid is corrosive. Do not contact. Some of the metal-acid reactions are quite violent. Wear sufficient protection and conduct experiment in a safe place.


You will need:


One or more of these: lithium, calcium, magnesium, aluminium, zinc, iron, nickel, tin, lead, copper, silver, gold

Hydrochloric acid, concentrated

Lots of test tubes


For consistency, all of the metals should be about the same shape and size. Zinc powder will react more vigorously than an aluminium chunk, even though aluminium is higher on the reactivity series.


In an earlier post (http://lanthanumkchemistry.over-blog.com/article-reactivity-series-demonstration-part-1-77387937.html), I showed the reactivity series by immersing metals in water and observing their reaction. The corrosion cannot be observed in a reasonable time span, so using hydrochloric acid instead of water should help. Hydrochloric acid should dissolve the passivating oxide layer, allowing the true reactivity of the metals to be seen.


Add hydrochloric acid to all the test tubes. Drop all of the metals in, starting with gold. Gold, silver, and copper have no reaction. Lead has an extremely slow to nonexistent reaction. Tin slowly reacts, releasing hydrogen gas bubbles occasionally. Nickel reacts a bit more noticeably, producing a measurable amount of hydrogen. Iron reacts quite noticeably. Zinc reacts vigorously, producing much heat. Aluminium reacts even more vigorously. Magnesium reacts even more vigorously. Calcium reacts even more vigorously. Lithium reacts even more vigorously. This trend is only observed when all acids are equal concentration and all elements are of equal shape and size.


Keep in touch for Part 3!

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