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Metals and Water

In this worksheet, students will explore metals which react aggressively with water.

'Metals and Water' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:   Chemistry: Chemical Reactions

Curriculum subtopic:   Types of Chemical Reactions

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

If you were asked the question, "What would happen if you placed a metal into water?" you may expect the answer to be "nothing" or "it would sink". 

 

Normally your answer would be correct because most metals do not react with water and are quite dense, and so would sink.  But as always in chemistry, there are some exceptions to the rules - The Alkali Metals.

 

The alkali metals are found in group one of the periodic table (the pink column in the periodic table below). All the alkali metals are stored in oil or an unreactive gas such as argon to prevent them from reacting with the moisture in the air.

 

 

They react very strongly with water to produce hydrogen gas and an alkali (metal hydroxide). This is shown in the equation below:

Alkali Metal + WaterMetal hydroxide + Hydrogen

 

This reaction is very vigorous and usually involves lots of smoke, flames and can even involve explosions. The metals become more reactive as you travel down group one, so we will start at the top of group one with Lithium.

 

Lithium 

Lithium is the least reactive alkali metal but still reacts to produce lots of smoke and heat. This can be seen from the picture below:

 

Lithium reacting with water

 

Note how the lithium floats on top of the water because it has a low density.

 

Sodium 

Sodium is more reactive than lithium and will produce yellow flames when placed in water.

 

Sodium reacting with water

 

 

Potassium 

Potassium is the most reactive metal that is allowed in the school classroom.

It is very reactive and burns with a lilac flame when placed in water. It may also cause an explosion of sparks, which is very spectacular!

 

Potassium reacting with water

 

Rubidium 

Rubidium is not allowed in the school lab because it explodes when placed in water.

It sinks to the bottom slowly because it has a higher density than potassium and then explodes.

 

Rubidium reacting with water

 

Caesium 

Caesium is again more reactive and will explode with a lot of force if placed in water.

 

Caesium reacting with water

 

Francium 

Finally, we have francium, which is very reactive and very rare.

It is estimated that only 30g of francium exists on the planet, so we can't see how it would react with water. 

 

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