Basic chemistry help for students and teachers


Interactive Chemistry Worksheets for Students


Periodic table

Naming compounds

Basic formula

Simple compounds

Ionic compounds 1

Ionic compounds 2

Chemical suffixes

Old chemical names

Hydrocarbons - Alkanes

Alkanes, alkenes & alkynes

Alkanols to alkanoic acids


Common compounds

Common formula quiz

Acids, bases and salts

Covalent compounds

Printable worksheets



What is produced by the action of acids with active metals?

Active metals react with acids to produce hydrogen gas and a salt.

The general equation of this type of chemical reaction is

Active metal + acid salt + hydrogen gas

This is an example of a single displacement reaction. One element (the active metal) displaces another in a compound (the acid). Active metals displace the hydrogen from acids producing hydrogen gas.

The two most common acids used are hydrochloric acid, HCl and sulfuric acid, H2SO4


Magnesium + sulfuric acid magnesium sulfate + hydrogen

Mg + H2SO4 MgSO4 + H2

The magnesium displaces the hydrogen from the acid. It's like calling for a single substitution during a game of basketball. Mg goes on the court and H2 comes off.


What is the activity series of metals?

Metals have different chemical reactivities.

The activity series of metals is the arrangement of metals in order of chemical reactivity from most to least active.


Most active metals


------------ Metals above this line can displace hydrogen from acids.

Least active metals


What is an active metal?

Active metals are metals that can displace the hydrogen ions, H+ from acids to produce hydrogen gas.

Metals like magnesium, zinc and iron are common active metals.

The reaction of lead with acids is slow.

Copper, silver and gold are not active enough to react with these acids.


Examples of acid metal reactions

General equation

Active metal + acid salt + hydrogen gas


1. Zinc + sulfuric acid zinc sulfate + hydrogen gas

Zn + H2SO4 ZnSO4 + H2


2. Magnesium + hydrochloric acid magnesium chloride + hydrogen gas

Mg + 2HCl MgCl2 + H2


3. Iron + sulfuric acid Iron(II) sulfate + hydrogen gas

Fe + H2SO4 FeSO4 + H2


Advanced reactions of acids and metals

A. Nitric acid is an oxidising acid.

Nitric acid reacts with copper and produces different products according to its concentration.

1. Copper + nitric acid copper nitrate + nitrogen dioxide + water

Cu + 4HNO3 Cu(NO3)2 + 2NO2 + 2H2O

2. Copper + nitric acid copper nitrate + nitrogen monoxide + water

3Cu + 8HNO3 3Cu(NO3)2 + 2NO + 4H2O


B. Concentrated sulfuric acid is an oxidising acid.

Concentrated sulfuric acid reacts with copper according to the following equation

3. Copper + concentrated sulfuric acid copper sulfate + sulfur dioxide + water

Cu + 2H2SO4 CuSO4 + SO2 + 2H2O