Chemistry X | Metals and Non-metals | What happens when Metals react with Water?

What happens when Metals react with Water?

Activity 3.10

CAUTION: This Activity needs the teacher’s assistance.

  1. Collect the samples of the same metals as in Activity 3.9.
  2. Put small pieces of the samples separately in beakers half-filled with cold water.
  3. Which metals reacted with cold water? Arrange them in the increasing order of their reactivity with cold water.
  4. Did any metal produce fire on water?
  5. Does any metal start floating after some time?
  6. Put the metals that did not react with cold water in beakers half-filled with hot water.
  7. For the metals that did not react with hot water, arrange the apparatus as shown in Fig. 3.3 and observe their reaction with steam.
  8. Which metals did not react even with steam?
  9. Arrange the metals in the decreasing order of reactivity with water.


Metals react with water and produce a metal oxide and hydrogen gas. Metal oxides that are soluble in water dissolve in it to further form metal hydroxide. But all metals do not react with water.

Metal + Water → Metal oxide + Hydrogen

Metal oxide + Water → Metal hydroxide

Metals like potassium and sodium react violently with cold water. In case of sodium and potassium, the reaction is so violent and exothermic that the evolved hydrogen immediately catches fire.

2K(s) + 2H2O(l) → 2KOH(aq) + H2(g) + heat energy

2Na(s) + 2H2O(l) → 2NaOH(aq) + H2(g) + heat energy

The reaction of calcium with water is less violent. The heat evolved is not sufficient for the hydrogen to catch fire.

Ca(s) + 2H2O(l) → Ca(OH)2(aq) + H2(g)

Calcium starts floating because the bubbles of hydrogen gas formed stick to the surface of the metal.

Magnesium does not react with cold water. It reacts with hot water to form magnesium hydroxide and hydrogen. It also starts floating due to the bubbles of hydrogen gas sticking to its surface.

Metals like aluminium, iron and zinc do not react either with cold or hot water. But they react with steam to form the metal oxide and hydrogen.

2Al(s) + 3H2O(g) → Al2O3(s) + 3H2(g)

3Fe(s) + 4H2O(g) → Fe3O4(s) + 4H2(g)

Metals such as lead, copper, silver and gold do not react with water at all.


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