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Reactions of group 1 elements with water
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| Words: 298 | Submitted: 21-Feb-2012
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DescriptionReactions of group 1 elements with water
Reactions of group 1 elements.
Lithium's density is only about half that of water so it floats on the surface, gently fizzing and giving off hydrogen. It gradually reacts and disappears, forming a colourless solution of lithium hydroxide. The reaction generates heat too slowly and lithium's melting point is too high for it to melt (see sodium below).
Sodium also floats on the surface, but enough heat is given off to melt the sodium (sodium has a lower melting point than lithium and the reaction produces heat faster) and it melts almost at once to form a small silvery ball that dashes around the surface. A white trail of sodium hydroxide is seen in the water under the sodium, but this soon dissolves to give a colourless solution of sodium hydroxide.
The sodium moves because it is pushed around by the hydrogen which is given off during the reaction. If the sodium becomes trapped on the side of the container, the hydrogen may catch fire to burn with an orange flame. The colour is due to contamination of the normally blue hydrogen flame with sodium compounds.
Potassium behaves rather like sodium except that the reaction is faster and enough heat is given off to set light to the hydrogen. This time the normal hydrogen flame is contaminated by potassium compounds and so is coloured lilac (a faintly bluish pink).
Rubidium is denser than water and so sinks. It reacts violently and immediately, with everything spitting out of the container again. Rubidium hydroxide solution and hydrogen are formed.
Caesium explodes on contact with water, quite possibly shattering the container. Caesium hydroxide and hydrogen are formed
Summary of the trend in reactivity
The Group 1 metals become more reactive towards water as you go down the Group.
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