Metal Reactivity Series
Below has been excerpted from Compound Chemistry
…This graphic places a selection of common metals into order of reactivity, as well as showing their reactions with air, water and steam.
Metals have a range of reactivities:
The classic alkali metals in water demonstration
The reactivity series offers a ranking of the metals in order of their reactivity.
Group 1 metals head up the rankings.
Closely followed by the marginally less reactive group 2 metals.
Transition metals are much less reactive
Gold and platinum have little in the way of chemical reaction.
* predict the outcome of certain chemical reactions.
If a metal compound reacts with a metal that’s above it in the reactivity series, a displacement reaction will occur.
The more reactive metal will take the place of the less reactive metal in the compound.
Conversely, if we react a metal with another metal lower in the series, no reaction will take place.
Copper sulfate + zinc → zinc sulfate + copper
Magnesium sulfate + zinc → NO REACTION
The reactivity series also gives us an insight into why different metals are extracted from their ores in different ways.
Carbon and hydrogen are also shoehorned in between entries in the list, despite being non-metals.
This is because they can react with the compounds in metal ores, and displace the metals, aiding with their extraction.
Some metals are so unreactive they occur largely uncombined with other elements, simple to obtain.
Majority of metals occur naturally in compounds, which we must remove them from.
* This graphic doesn’t contain every metal in the periodic table.
* Some caveats: for example, aluminium will react slowly with water, if the thin aluminium oxide layer that prevents it from reacting is damaged.