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Experiment 3

Properties of Some Representative Elements

Learning Goals
1. To identify the reactivity trends of elements in Group IA, IIA, and VIA with water.
2. The use of flame tests to identify metal ions.
3. To ascertain pH of solutions of Group IA, IIA, and VIA elements

The Periodic Table of the elements is an organized set of data stemming from years of research.
The data contained therein has been used to predict the properties of elements as well as the
existence and the synthesis of those elements. Dimitri Mendeleev, a professor at the University
of St. Petersburg, organized much of the data in 1869. Mendeleev placed the elements in
columns and rows, whereby adjacent elements were similar. Recognizing that such an
organization was also related to the atomic masses of the elements led to the current organization
of the periodic table that is based on atomic number. At the time of Mendeleevs work, the
structure of the atom had not yet been determined. Generally the arrangement of the elements by
atomic mass is very similar to the arrangement by atomic number with some notable exceptions.
The general chemical and physical properties of an element can be predicted from its location in
the periodic table. For example, elements on the left side of the table are known as metals,
which are generally solids that are ductile, have luster, conduct electricity and are malleable.
Elements on the right side of the table are known as nonmetals, which are amorphous,
nonconductors of electricity, and may be gases. The metals on the left of the table form salts
with the nonmetals on the right. Elements of a group (vertical column) have similar chemical
and physical properties with each successive element showing a gradual change in reactivity.
Successive elements in a period (horizontal row) show more dramatic differences in properties,
progressing from metallic properties at the left of the period to nonmetallic properties at the
Groups IA VIIIA (1, 2 and 13-18) are known as the representative or main block elements. In
this experiment, we will look at the similarities and differences in the chemical and physical
properties of several elements of Group IA (1), Group IIA (2) and Group VIA (6).
Group IA
The Group IA elements are commonly known as the alkali metals. These substances are among
the most reactive of all the elements. Alkali metals are not found in nature in their elemental
state, but they are abundantly present in the combined state. These elements are relatively
difficult and expensive to produce and store. Alkali metals readily react with oxygen to form
metal oxides and are stored under a layer of kerosene to keep them from contact with the air and
The elements of Group IA are very low in density and are soft enough to be easily cut with a
knife or spatula. The least reactive of these elements is lithium, the topmost member. The most
reactive is cesium, the bottommost member besides Francium. Francium is radioactive.
Elements of Group IA form ions with a 1+ charge.
Group IIA
The elements of Group IIA are also called the Alkaline Earth Metals. These elements are not
as reactive as the alkali metals and are occasionally found in the free-state in nature. Beryllium,
the topmost in this group is not very common, but magnesium and calcium are found in fairly
high abundance. As with Group IA, the relative reactivity of the Group IIA elements increases
from top to bottom in the periodic table. Group IIA elements form ions with a 2+ charge.

Group VIA
The most abundant elements of Group VIA (sometimes called the Chalcogens) are oxygen and
sulfur, which along with selenium are nonmetals. Elemental oxygen makes up about 20% of the
atmosphere by volume and is vital to human life. Oxygen has two allotropic forms: the normal
elemental form is O2 while the second is O3 (ozone). In compounds with metals, oxygen
commonly forms an ion with a 2- charge. Compounds containing oxygen are often referred to
as oxides, e.g. silver oxide (Ag2O).
Sulfur is obtained from the earth in a nearly pure state and needs little or no refining before use.
When sulfur is burned in air, the sulfur converts to sulfur dioxide, notable for its choking,
irritating odor. Sulfur has several allotropic forms with the most common one consisting of S 8
cyclic molecules.
Safety Precautions
Goggles MUST be worn for this laboratory. Place all waste in the properly labeled containers as
instructed. When igniting the magnesium ribbon, DO NOT look directly into the flame.
A list of reactions can be found below. It is up to the student to determine which reaction
describes the chemistry illustrated by the experiment.
2Mg + O2 2MgO
MgO + H2O Mg(OH)2
2Na + 2H2O 2NaOH + H2
Ca + 2H2O Ca(OH)2 + H2
CaO + H2O Ca(OH)2

CO2 + H2O H2CO3

2K + 2H2O 2KOH + H2
BaO + H2O Ba(OH)2
Al2O3 + 3H2O 2Al(OH)3
Mg + 2H2O Mg(OH)2 + H2

General Notes:
Determining the pH of a substance is one method of describing the acidity of a substance.
pHydrion paper will be used in this experiment to determine the pH. The proper way to
determine the pH is to tear off a small piece of pHydrion paper. Dip a clean, glass stirring rod
into the solution you want to test. Touch the tip of the stirring rod to the paper. Compare the
paper to the scale on the pHydrion paper container to determine pH.

A pH of less than 7 indicates an acidic compound.

A pH greater than 7 indicates a basic compound.
A pH of 7 is considered to be neutral.

A. Properties of Alkali and Alkaline Earth Elements

The reactive metals of Group IA and Group IIA react with cold water to produce elemental
hydrogen and a metal hydroxide.
Group IA
2M(s) + 2H2O 2MOH(aq) + H2(g)
Group IIA
M(s) + 2H2O M(OH)2(aq) + H2(g)

M is a metal from that family.
1. Sodium and Potassium with water (Prelab Question # 4)
The reaction of Group IA metals with water is very dangerous. You were asked to watch
a YouTube video for your prelab. Write your observations and the equations for the
reaction of the metals with water on your data report form.
2. Magnesium and Calcium with water.
Put 40 drops of distilled water in a test tube. Add a small piece of magnesium to the test
tube. Record any observations on your data report sheet. Wait 5-10 minutes and test the
acidity of the contents of each test tube using pHydrion paper. Tear off a small piece of
paper. Use a glass-stirring rod to dip into the test tube and touch the stirring rod to the
paper. Compare to the pHydrion paper container to determine the pH. A pH of 7 is
considered to be neutral. A pH greater than 7 is basic while a pH below 7 is acidic.
Record your observations on the data report form. Pour the contents of the test tube into
the waste beaker labeled Group I and II Waste
If available, repeat the above process with calcium turnings. This part may be done as a
demonstration. Record your observations and the pH of the solution on your data report
3. Flame tests of Group IA and IIA elements.
Metal ions give characteristic and intense colors when placed in a flame. A flame test is
often used to test for the presence of these elements in a sample.
Your instructor will pour methanol (an alcohol) over solid samples of sodium chloride,
lithium chloride, barium chloride, strontium chloride, calcium chloride and potassium
chloride. The instructor will ignite the methanol with a lighter. As the flame reaches the
solids, you will begin to see streaks of color. Record the color of each solid on your data
report form. The methanol will eventually burn off, leaving the solid. Note that the solid
does not change.
B. Oxides of Some Elements
Oxygen compounds of most elements are known, and are generally referred to as oxides.
However, there are great differences between the oxides of metallic elements and those of
nonmetals. The oxides of metals form basic solutions when dissolved in water.
Group IA M2O + H2O 2MOH
Group IIA MO + H2O M(OH)2
M is a metal from that family
Oxides of nonmetals are generally covalently bonded and form acidic solutions when dissolved
in water.

1. Metallic Oxides.
a. Place approximately 20 drops of distilled water into each of three test tubes.
b. Add a very small quantity of barium oxide to one test tube. Add calcium oxide to
a second test tube and aluminum oxide to the third test tube.
c. Stir each test tube with a clean glass-stirring rod. Let sit for 5-10 minutes
d. Test the acidity of the contents of each test tube using pHydrion paper. Tear off a
small piece of the paper. DO NOT dip the paper into the test tube. Dip a clean
glass-stirring rod into a test tube. Touch the stirring rod to the paper and
determine the pH using the scale on the pHydrion paper container. Clean the
glass-stirring rod and test the remaining test tubes.
e. Record your observations on the data report form. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH
greater than 7 is basic while a pH lower than 7 is acidic.
f. Dispose of the contents of the test tube in the waste container labeled metallic
oxide waste.
g. Place approximately 10 mL of distilled water into a small beaker.
h. Obtain a piece of magnesium ribbon about 1 inch in length. Hold the ribbon with
tongs above the beaker of water and ignite the metal with a burner flame. DO
NOT look directly at the flame produced by the burning magnesium. It is
intensely bright and damaging to the eyes. Heating the magnesium in the flame
forms magnesium oxide (MgO). When the flame has expired, drop the ribbon
into the beaker and stir the liquid for 10 minutes. Use pHydrion paper to
determine the pH of the solution.
Proper Use of the Laboratory Burner.
The gas valves in the laboratory have a blue label. Attach your Bunsen burner to
the valve by using a piece of thin-walled rubber tubing. The burner has a screw
valve on the bottom that is used to control the flow of gas. Close the valve by
turning the screw to the right.
To light the burner, turn the screw-valve by one turn. Turn the gas jet to the open
position. Quickly use your striker to light the burner. If the burner does not light
on the first couple of strikes, turn the gas jet off. Wait a few seconds for any
gathered gas to dissipate and then repeat the procedure. You may have to slightly
increase the flow of gas using the screw-valve.
After lighting the burner, the flame is likely to be yellow or partly yellow. The
flame at this point is relatively cool. To make the flame hotter and more stable,
open the air vents on the barrel of the burner slowly to allow more oxygen to mix
with the gas. A proper mixture of gas and oxygen gives a pale blue flame with a
bright blue cone shaped region in the center.
To increase or decrease the height of the flame, turn the screw valve on the
bottom of the burner. Do not control the amount of gas with the gas jet.
i. Dispose of the beaker contents in the waste jar labeled Group I and II waste.

2. Nonmetallic Oxides
a. Place approximately 40 drops of distilled water into a test tube. Add 2 drops of
universal indicator (changes color with changes in pH) and 2 drops of 0.1M
NaOH. Compare the color of the solution with the universal indicator color chart
available at the front of the lab. Do NOT use pH paper for this part of the
experiment. Record the color and pH on your data report form. Make sure you
return the chart to its original place when you are finished. There are only two
charts for the entire lab.
b. Using a straw, GENTLY blow bubbles into solution until a greenish color is
formed. Record any color change and new pH.
c. Contents of the test tube can be washed down the sink with lots of water.
Universal Indicator
Adding 2 drops of Universal indicator to each solution. Determine the pH of each
solution by comparing the color of the solution to the Universal indicator chart.
Warm colors yellow, red, orange: the solution is acidic.
Cold colors blue/purple: the solution is basic.
Green neutral

C121 Principles of Chemistry Laboratory


Experiment 3 Properties of Some Representative Elements
Advance Study Form
1. (8pts) Fill in the following table using a periodic table.

Atomic Number

Avg. Atomic Mass



2. (3pts) What must be present for a compound to be referred to as an oxide? Give an example.

3. a) Is a compound with a pH of 9 considered to be acidic, basic or neutral?

b) If a compound with a pH of 7 considered to be acidic, basic or neutral?
4. Logon to Search for the video that is labeled alkali metals in water,
accurate! and watch it (it is only about 2 minutes long).
a) What can you say about the reactivity of alkali metals going down the family?

b) Which element of the alkali metals tested was the most reactive?
c) Which element tested was the least reactive?

C121 Elementary Chemistry Laboratory



Experiment 3 - Properties of Some Representative Elements
Data Report Form


Some Properties of the Alkali and Alkaline Earth Elements

Part 1 and 2 - Reaction with Water (24pts)

Metal Observations




Dark green



Equation for the Reaction




Part 3 Flame Tests (6pts)

Metal Color Observed







Color Observed

B. Oxides of Some Elements
Oxides of Metals and Nonmetals Parts 1 and 2 (30pts)

Indicator Color



Barium oxide
Calcium oxide
Aluminum oxide
Magnesium oxide
Before blowing into the
Carbon dioxide

After blowing into the


1. (4pts) A substance was thought to be KBr or SrBr2. How could you determine the identity of
the compound? Explain how this will distinguish between the two compounds.

2. (4pts) Based on your observations for the reaction of sodium, potassium, magnesium and
calcium with water, determine the correlation between the locations of these elements in the
periodic table and the vigor (amount of bubbling/fizzing) of reaction.

3. (4pts) Based on your observations, give a general statement regarding the acidity of metal
oxides compared to the acidity of nonmetallic oxides.

4. (8pts) Why was the magnesium strip placed in the flame before it was dropped into the
beaker of water? Give a chemical equation to show this reaction.