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Group 1: the alkali metals

The alkali metals lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, and francium constitute group 1 of the periodic table. Although hydrogen is in group 1 (and also in group 17), it is a nonmetal and deserves separate consideration later in this chapter. The name alkali metal is in reference to the fact that these metals and their oxides react with water to form very basic (alkaline) solutions.

The properties of the alkali metals are similar to each other as expected for elements in the same family. The alkali metals have the largest atomic radii and the lowest first ionization energy in their periods. This combination makes it very easy to remove the single electron in the outermost (valence) shell of each. The easy loss of this valence electron means that these metals readily form stable cations with a charge of 1+. Their reactivity increases with increasing atomic number due to the ease of losing the lone valence electron (decreasing ionization energy). Since oxidation is so easy, the reverse, reduction, is difficult, which explains why it is hard to isolate the elements. The solid alkali metals are very soft; lithium, shown in [link] , has the lowest density of any metal (0.5 g/cm 3 ).

The alkali metals all react vigorously with water to form hydrogen gas and a basic solution of the metal hydroxide. This means they are easier to oxidize than is hydrogen. As an example, the reaction of lithium with water is:

2Li ( s ) + 2H 2 O ( l ) 2LiOH ( a q ) + H 2 ( g )
A glass container that is half filled with a colorless liquid is shown. Blocks of a shiny silver solid float on top of the liquid in the container.
Lithium floats in paraffin oil because its density is less than the density of paraffin oil.

Alkali metals react directly with all the nonmetals (except the noble gases) to yield binary ionic compounds containing 1+ metal ions. These metals are so reactive that it is necessary to avoid contact with both moisture and oxygen in the air. Therefore, they are stored in sealed containers under mineral oil, as shown in [link] , to prevent contact with air and moisture. The pure metals never exist free (uncombined) in nature due to their high reactivity. In addition, this high reactivity makes it necessary to prepare the metals by electrolysis of alkali metal compounds.

A sealed, tube-like glass container is shown. The container is partially filled with a colorless liquid and contains two metallic spheres.
To prevent contact with air and water, potassium for laboratory use comes as sticks or beads stored under kerosene or mineral oil, or in sealed containers. (credit: http://images-of-elements.com/potassium.php)

Unlike many other metals, the reactivity and softness of the alkali metals make these metals unsuitable for structural applications. However, there are applications where the reactivity of the alkali metals is an advantage. For example, the production of metals such as titanium and zirconium relies, in part, on the ability of sodium to reduce compounds of these metals. The manufacture of many organic compounds, including certain dyes, drugs, and perfumes, utilizes reduction by lithium or sodium.

Sodium and its compounds impart a bright yellow color to a flame, as seen in [link] . Passing an electrical discharge through sodium vapor also produces this color. In both cases, this is an example of an emission spectrum as discussed in the chapter on electronic structure. Streetlights sometime employ sodium vapor lights because the sodium vapor penetrates fog better than most other light. This is because the fog does not scatter yellow light as much as it scatters white light. The other alkali metals and their salts also impart color to a flame. Lithium creates a bright, crimson color, whereas the others create a pale, violet color.

Questions & Answers

definition of isomerism
Madam Reply
Compounds that have the same molecular formula, but different structural formula. Sent from Egypt
Abdelkarim
who is the father of chemistry
Naomi Reply
what is hybridization and bonding
Simon Reply
please who is the father of chemistry
Naomi
Antoine Lavoisier
Abdelkarim
I recommend reading on Google.
Abdelkarim
Also, god has created everything
Abdelkarim
(Allah, the creator)
Abdelkarim
how to determine the empirical formula
Vickie Reply
what is neutralisation reaction
Ugbaje Reply
It is a reaction where an acid (aq) reacts with an alkali (aq) to form salt AND water.
Abdelkarim
What is the ratio of the average kinetic energy of a SO 2 molecule to that of an O 2 molecule in a mixture of two gases? What is the ratio of the root mean square speeds, u rms , of the two gases?
xMah_Bx Reply
what is methyl orange
Wisdom Reply
its an indicator
Abigail
It is an organic molecule that reacts with acid/base medium and shows change in colour (due to formed products). It can be used to test for alcohols which are prohibited to drink in Islam as it is bad for brain and liver and immunity.
Abdelkarim
it is an indicator used to determine the end point in an acid-base titration
xMah_Bx
explain more about this topic
Ayomide Reply
Which topic please?
Abdelkarim
covalent bond explanation
EPHETA Reply
God has lictured these rules that the electrons move with them and the space time curve. So we prwy to God in Islam or we suffer. Please learn about Islam and science and mention God and thank him.
Abdelkarim
yes, it is very true. God is the one who inspires science. Then we, as his children, have the privilege to learn about what he has created. I'm still a novis at chemistry. I still have a lot to learn.
Eric
Beautiful, however, what I learned from the Quran is that god has created human and has a mission like managing the ecology, building, learning, mentioning god (saying glory to Almighty for instance few times and periodic). And the moat important prayer lile prophet Muhammed the last meassenger.
Abdelkarim
Also God forgives all sins except assossiating any one with him like sons and daughters or stone sculpture. Beautifully, if some one stops from saying this God can switch their sins to virtueness. And God all merciful doesnt get bored forgiving people who ask for forgiveness.
Abdelkarim
Also, there is a versw in the Quran that sates: { corruption has appeared in the land and the sea he will taste them from what their hands have gained} this reminds me of covid from stupid politicians who will be throne to hell.
Abdelkarim
nature of bond in N2 molecule is
Ahmad Reply
Triple covalent bond, and that is why it is hardly reactive because in order to react you must break three strong covalent bonds.
Abdelkarim
what is electromagnetic energy
Onyekwu Reply
in a school of 120 students, 41studied mathematics, 48studied chemistry and 42 studied physics, 16 studied both chemistry and mathematics, 14 studied mathematics and physics, 18 studied chemistry and physics and 9 studied all the three subjects. how many of them studied exactly one subject?
Kafayat Reply
Does Chromium oxidize?
Jag Reply
yes
Alaa
@Alaa It doesn't.
Jag
yes. it's a very strong oxidizing agent
xMah_Bx
what is compound
Queen Reply
what are the types of hydrocarbon
Dolapo Reply
homologous series is under what
Dolapo
Don't get your Question.
Jag
OK Aliphatic and Aromatic.
Jag
Practice Key Terms 8

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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