Interactive Chemistry Worksheets for Students
Metals differ in their chemical reactivities. Magnesium is more reactive than zinc and zinc is more reactive than iron.
Metals can be placed in order of decreasing chemical activity. This is called the activity series of metals.
|Mg2+||Magnesium||Mg||Most active metal|
|Ag+||Silver||Ag||Least active metal|
An active metal will displace the ion of a less active metal from solution.
A metal higher on the table will react with a metal ion solution lower on the table.
An example of a displacement reaction is placing a piece of steel wool into a solution of copper sulfate.
Note: Don't use the commercial brands of steel wool that are protected from rusting. They will not react.
The steel wool is turned into pink copper wool. Over time the solution also loses its blue color and turns olive green.
Iron (steel wool) + Copper sulfate Iron sulfate + Copper
Fe + CuSO4 FeSO4 + Cu
Copper sulfate CuSO4 is blue
Iron(II) sulfate, FeSO4 is olive green
Copper metal, Cu is pink
The reaction is also exothermic producing heat.