Reactivity Series
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  • Introduction
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By reacting metals with oxygen, acids and water, scientists have been able to construct a table of metals, listing them in order from the most to the least reactive.

This table is called the reactivity series:

 

 

The metals at the top are so reactive that they can even set on fire or explode when stored in water. They also tarnish (go dull) very quickly when exposed to air.

The picture below shows the explosive reaction produced when potassium is placed in water:

 


 

Metals near the bottom of the series are unreactive. Platinum, for example, will not corrode in air or react with acids. This makes it an ideal metal to make jewelry from as it will not tarnish or be damaged by chemicals. 

 

The picture below shows jewelry made from platiunum. 

Rings - stock photo


The reactivity series may seem complicated, but there is an easy way to remember it, using this simple pneumonic  (or you can make up your own!).

 

Police Sergeant Charlie MACZITL Has Caught Me Stealing Gold Plates 

 

  • Question 1
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In which order does the reactivity series list metals?

they are not in a specific order

least reactive to most reactive

aphabetical order

most reactive to least reactive

  • Question 2
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Place the metals in the correct order of reactivity by comparing their reactivity to aluminium (i.e. are they more reactive than aluminium or less reactive?).

Column A

Column B

potassium
more reactive
copper
more reactive
magnesium
more reactive
gold
less reactive
sodium
less reactive
  • Question 3
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Place the metals in the correct order of reactivity by comparing their reactivity to iron (are they more reactive than iron or less reactive?).

Column A

Column B

calcium
less reactive
mercury
more reactive
zinc
less reactive
lead
more reactive
silver
less reactive
  • Question 4
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Which of the following metals is most likely to react with water?

copper

sodium

silver

gold

  • Question 5
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Which of the following would not be a suitable material to use in the manufacture of jewellery? Tick three boxes.

magnesium

copper

calcium

silver

aluminium

  • Question 6
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What term is used to describe a metal that has become dull due to its reaction with air or other substances?

old

pitted

tarnished

  • Question 7
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Which THREE of the following did scientists react metals with in order to produce the reactivity series?

 

water

helium

nitrogen

oxygen

acid

  • Question 8
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Place the metals in order of reactivity from the highest to the lowest. 

 Most Reactive Least Reactive
Magnesium
Silver
  • Question 9
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Place the metals in the correct order of reactivity by comparing their reactivity to copper.

Column A

Column B

silver
more reactive
mercury
more reactive
lead
less reactive
gold
less reactive
zinc
less reactive
Progress