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Reactive Metal

Last updated: April 6, 2020

What Does Reactive Metal Mean?

Reactive metal is a group of metal elements that can form a reaction with acids, water, mineral acids and powerful oxidizing acids. This group can be identified with the activity or reactivity series, which determines the most reactive metals from highest to lowest.

Starting at the bottom of the series and going up, the reactivity of metals increases and loses electrons to create positive ions. Those on top of the series tarnish and corrode more readily and need higher energy to be separated and become electron donors.


Corrosionpedia Explains Reactive Metal

The activity series is a chart listing metals in order of reducing relative reactivity. The metals on top are highly reactive. For instance, zinc and magnesium can form a reaction with ions of hydrogen to displace hydrogen ions. Both of these can form a reaction with ions of hydrogen, yet magnesium can displace ions of zinc.

This only reflects that magnesium is higher in reactivity compared to zinc, and both of these metals are more reactive to hydrogen. The further two metals are apart, the more intense the reaction will be.

The metal activity series is an experimental tool utilized to calculate the outcomes of displacement reactions and metal reactivity with acids, water, ore extraction and replacement reactions. It can be beneficial in predicting metals' reactions.

In the chart, the first five elements are considered highly reactive. These can react with hot water or cold water and form a steam with hydroxides and hydrogen gas. The next four metals, following the list from magnesium to chromium, are regarded as active metals that that can form a reaction with hot water or steam in order to produce hydrogen gas and oxides. All oxides produced under the first two metal groups can resist hydrogen ion reduction.

The six elements from iron through lead can put back hydrogen from nitric, sulfuric and hydrochloric acids. The oxides from these metals are capable of reducing through heating with carbon, hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide.

The reactive metal activity series can work perfectly for reactions in aqueous solution or at room temperature.

Related Question
Does zinc rust?

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