Activity Series Lab Part I


Some of the chemicals in this lab are toxic so assume that they all are. One will turn your skin black on contact. If you get any of these chemicals on your hands, wash it off immediately and tell your teacher. Wear goggles at ALL TIMES over your eyes, not your forehead or neck.


Introduction: In this lab, you will be attempting to react a metal with several solutions. Each of these will be a single displacement reaction. Only half of the reactions will occur. By recording which reactions occur and which don't, you will be able to figure out their relative reactivity (activity series).

For example, you have 3 metals; A, B, and C and their salt solutions; ANO3, BNO3, and CNO3. You put each metal in the other two solutions, you get the following results:



B Rxn X Rxn
C Rxn NR X


Where it says NR, there was no reaction. Where it says Rxn, there was a reaction. Where there is an X, the test was not done because metal A doesn't need to be tested on solution A.

Since metal B reacted with both of the other solutions, it is the most reactive. Metal A didn't react with either solution and is therefore the least reactive. The activity series goes B, C, A from most to least.

You will be doing the activity series for Mg, Zn, Fe, Cu, and Ag. You should have the following data chart in your lab notebook before the lab.



MgNO3 ZnNO3 FeCl2 CuSO4 Ag NO3
Mg X
Zn    X
Fe      X
Cu        X
Ag          X




Pre-Lab Questions:

1. Write complete balanced equations for the 16 reactions that you will be performing and number them

from 1 to 16.


2. Use the real activity series chart in your book to predict which of the 16 will really happen and list their numbers.



1. Clean and dry a spot plate being sure that there is nothing left in the wells.

2. Test one metal at a time by putting _____ drops of the other 4 solutions in separate wells. Bring the solutions to your teacher who will place the metal in the solutions.

3. Stir each well with a toothpick. Be sure to rinse the toothpick between each stirring. Wait at least 2 minutes to see if a reaction occurs. Evidence may include bubbles, metal changing color, solution changing color, or the size or shape of the metal changing. Sometimes when the metal gets wet, it changes color or appearance. Be careful not to mistake this for a reaction.

4. Repeat this procedure until you have tested the 4 metals. The fifth metal doesn't need to be tested as its solution has been tested against all of the metals (and it's expensive).

5. Record the results of each test in your data table using the same abbreviations as in the example.

6. Clean your spot plate completely, discard the toothpick, and dump the chemical waste into the waste container.

Post-lab questions:

  1. Rank the metals from most reactive to least reactive.
  2. How does your activity series compare with the one in the book?
  3. How many of the reactions that you predicted would react really did? How many reactions that you predicted would not react actually did not?
  4. If you were doing a lab final (which you will), and you thought that you had a solution with zinc in it, how could you test this using single displacement reactions?


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Questions? Comments??