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Compounds and mixtures


The reactivity series

Reactive and unreactive

magnesium burning above a bunsen burner

Magnesium burns very brightly when heated in air

Some metals are very unreactive. That means they do not easily take part in chemical reactions. For example platinum does not react with oxygen in the air, even if it is heated in a Bunsen burner flame.

Some metals are very reactive. They easily take part in chemical reactions to make new substances.

Magnesium is like this. If it is heated in a Bunsen burner, it ignites and burns with a brilliant white flame.

Putting metals in order of reactivity

Lists from most reactive to least reactive - potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, aluminium, zinc, iron, tin, lead, copper, silver, gold, platinum.

The reactivity series for some common metals

Other metals may be more reactive than magnesium, or in between magnesium and platinum. If we put the metals in order of their reactivity, from most reactive down to least reactive, we get a list called the reactivity series.

If you want to learn the reactivity series, you could try making up a mnemonic or silly sentence to help. Here's one - can you do better?

"Pond slime can make a zoo interesting - the long crinkly sort goes purple."


Compounds and mixtures activity

How will you react to this activity?



Can you conquer the elements?

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