Investigating the chemical behaviour of metals

My aim for the experiment was to investigate and analyse how different metals reacted with water, acid and alkaline. The chemical that I used for the acid was hydrochloric acid, for the alkaline I used sodium hydroxide.

The metals that I used for the experiment were:

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* Zinc

* Aluminium

* Copper

* Iron

* Magnesium

Another issue I wanted to find out was that which metal would be the most suitable to use for the blade of and ice skate, or which combination of metals would be good for making the blade of an ice skate, using there reactivity towards the different liquids to determine this.

As you can see all three skates are different and their blades are different. The first skate is a speed skate and you can see from that angle that it is long. The second one is an ice hockey skate and the third on is a normal ice skate.

What will be needed in a blade would be that it would need to be strong and also not to be reactive to the ice, whether it is acid alkaline or water, the ice would usually be water. So that is why I am testing these metals, so that the blade will last for a long time and so that it would not deteriorate while the person is skating.


These pieces of equipment will be needed to carry out my experiment, to a good standard:

* Test tubes (x15)

* Test tube rack

* Acid (hydrochloric acid)

* Alkaline (sodium hydroxide)

* Water

* Different metals (zinc, aluminium, copper, iron, magnesium)

* Pipette

* Measuring cylinder


* Make sure that when dealing with the acid, handle it with care. The reason for this is that if it goes on your skin or somebody else skin it could be corrosive to some of the skin and could cause irritation.

* Always wear gloves and goggles so that if the acid drops, it would not drop on your hand or splatter in your eye.

* Also alkaline is present so the same problems that can occur with the acid to the skin can happen with the alkaline.


* First collect the materials

* Then place one of your metals e.g. zinc, in three test tubes.

* In one of the test tubes place 20cm3 of water, then in the second place 20ml of alkaline, then place 20cm3 of acid in the third. Make sure that you get a reading of how much you are putting in so that it is a fair test.

* Do this with the other metals placing them each in the different substances.

* Then take your first reading, and record it.

* Wait for a week and then take your second reading.

* And then do the same wait for a week and then take another reading.

* Write the results in a table.



Observation 1

Observation 2

Observation 3

Zn + water

No reaction

Misty at the bottom. Layer of whit powder as well.

White residue on the metal, also on the bottom of the test tube.

+ acid

No reaction

Silver layer of powder on the metal.

Slight residue in liquid, silver coating has gone.

+ alkaline

No reaction

Some residue at the bottom.

Some residue at the bottom of the test tube.

Al + water

No reaction

Green residue at the bottom of the test tube.

Green residue in water and white residue at the bottom.

+ acid

No reaction

All of the metal dissolved, clear solution.

Clear solution, metal completely dissolved.

+ alkaline

No reaction

Whole metal dissolved, white residue at the top of test tube, orange and black at the bottom.

White residue at the top of the test tube, green brown residue at the bottom.

Cu + water

No reaction

No reaction

No reaction

+ acid

No reaction

Copper has dissolved, the solution is blue.

Blue solution: copper sulphate, whole metal dissolved.

+ alkaline

No reaction

Metal turned black, white residue at the bottom.

Black coat on metal, white residue on bottom.

Fe + water

No reaction

The metal rusted. It turned orange.

Iron rusted, orange residue at the bottom.

+ acid

No reaction

Rust had occurred, the metal went orange.

Iron oxide is produced, rust on metal

+ alkaline

No reaction

No reaction

Slight white residue at the bottom.

Mg + water

No reaction

Silver coat has gone black, but only some.

White residue on water

+ acid

Reaction occurred, fizzy exothermal

All the metal dissolved clear solution.

Metal dissolved completely.

+ alkaline

No reaction

White residue at the bottom.

White residue at the bottom.


Looking at all the metals the least reactive metal is copper. In the water the metal did not react at all, this is what I expected as all water pipes are made of copper. The most reactive metal is magnesium. Another metal that has reacted to the chemicals is iron. The metal rusted in two of the chemicals.

Looking at what metals would be the best to use as an ice skate blade, the best would be copper as it was the least reactive, but the metal is too soft.

If that is the case then a combination of metals, iron could be used as a main part of the blade and then coat it with copper. That way the skate will be strong but it won’t be that reactive.

Looking at the results of aluminium I was quite surprised as the metal did not react more. The reason for this could be that when aluminium and oxygen combine it then becomes aluminium oxide therefore making the metal impermeable; hence no further reaction can occur. Aluminium could have reacted because the outer layer came off and then it reacted, and aluminium is extremely reactive.


Looking back at the experiment as a whole I think that it was a good experiment. I also feel that the results that I have achieved are fairly accurate. But I do not think that these results would be good enough for the industries. My reason for this is that my tutor commented on my results and said that one or two of them are unusual and the way they have reacted was unusual, this could have been from contamination during the experiment while I might have been away or contamination to the metals before they were handed to me. Another reason for this could be that some of the equipment may not have been sterilised before they were used. If this experiment had been carried out in the industries then maybe the results would have more accurate and the description given by the workers would have been more accurate and more detailed.