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Acids, bases and metals


Reactions of acids with metals

Acids react with most metals and a salt is produced. But unlike the reaction between acids and bases we don't get any water. Instead we get hydrogen gas.

This is the general word equation for the reaction:

metal + acidsalt + hydrogen


The salt produced depends upon the metal and the acid. Here are two examples:

zinc + sulphuric acidzinc sulphate + hydrogen

magnesium + hydrochloric acidmagnesium chloride + hydrogen

It doesn't matter which metal or acid is used, if there is a reaction we always get hydrogen gas as well as the salt.

The test for hydrogen

There is a simple laboratory test to see if a gas is hydrogen. A lighted wooden splint goes pop if it is put into a test tube of hydrogen. This is because the flame ignites the hydrogen, which burns explosively to make a loud sound.

Acids and hydrogen

All acids contain hydrogen atoms. Apart from hydrochloric acid, this is not clear from their names, but you can tell they contain hydrogen from their chemical formulae. Remember that the chemical symbol for hydrogen is H.

Name of acid Chemical formula of acid
hydrochloric acid


nitric acid


sulphuric acid


carbonic acid


phosphoric acid




Acids, bases and metals activity

Handle with care! Toxic revision material.


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