<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
Sodium metal is very reactive. Sodium metal reacts vigourously with water and should never be placed in water. Be very careful when handling sodium metal.

Experiment: reaction types


To use experiments to determine what type of reaction occurs.


Soluble salts (e.g. potassium nitrate, ammonium chloride, sodium carbonate, silver nitrate, sodium bromide); hydrochloric acid ( HCl ); sodium hydroxide( NaOH ); bromothymol blue; zinc metal; copper (II) sulphate; beakers; test-tubes


  • For each of the salts, dissolve a small amount in water and observe what happens.
  • Try dissolving pairs of salts (e.g. potassium nitrate and sodium carbonate) in water and observe what happens.
  • Dissolve some sodium carbonate in hydrochloric acid and observe what happens.
  • Carefully measure out 20 cm 3 of sodium hydroxide into a beaker.
  • Add some bromothymol blue to the sodium hydroxide
  • Carefully add a few drops of hydrochloric acid to the sodium hydroxide and swirl. Repeat until you notice the colour change.
  • Place the zinc metal into the copper sulphate solution and observe what happens.


Answer the following questions:
  • What did you observe when you dissolved each of the salts in water?
  • What did you observe when you dissolved pairs of salts in the water?
  • What did you observe when you dissolved sodium carbonate in hydrochloric acid?
  • Why do you think we used bromothymol blue when mixing the hydrochloric acid and the sodium hydroxide? Think about the kind of reaction that occurred.
  • What did you observe when you placed the zinc metal into the copper sulphate?
  • Classify each reaction as either precipitation, gas forming, acid-base or redox.
  • What makes each reaction happen (i.e. what is the driving force)? Is it the formation of a precipitate or something else?
  • What criteria would you use to determine what kind of reaction occurs?
  • Try to write balanced chemical equations for each reaction


We can see how we can classify reactions by performing experiments.

In the experiment above, you should have seen how each reaction type differs from the others. For example, a gas forming reaction leads to bubbles in the solution, a precipitation reaction leads to a precipitate forming, an acid-base reaction can be seen by adding a suitable indicator and a redox reaction can be seen by one metal disappearing and a deposit forming in the solution.


  • The polar nature of water means that ionic compounds dissociate easily in aqueous solution into their component ions.
  • Ions in solution play a number of roles. In the human body for example, ions help to regulate the internal environment (e.g. controlling muscle function, regulating blood pH). Ions in solution also determine water hardness and pH.
  • Water hardness is a measure of the mineral content of water. Hard water has a high mineral concentration and generally also a high concentration of metal ions e.g. calcium and magnesium. The opposite is true for soft water.
  • Conductivity is a measure of a solution's ability to conduct an electric current.
  • An electrolyte is a substance that contains free ions and is therefore able to conduct an electric current. Electrolytes can be divided into strong and weak electrolytes, based on the extent to which the substance ionises in solution.
  • A non-electrolyte cannot conduct an electric current because it dooes not contain free ions.
  • The type of substance , the concentration of ions and the temperature of the solution affect its conductivity.
  • There are three main types of reactions that occur in aqueous solutions. These are precipitation reactions, acid-base reactions and redox reactions.
  • Precipitation and acid-base reactions are sometimes known as ion exchange reactions. Ion exchange reactions also include gas forming reactions.
  • A precipitate is formed when ions in solution react with each other to form an insoluble product. Solubility 'rules' help to identify the precipitate that has been formed.
  • A number of tests can be used to identify whether certain anions are present in a solution.
  • An acid-base reaction is one in which an acid reacts with a base to form a salt and water.
  • A redox reaction is one in which electrons are transferred from one substance to another.

End of chapter exercises

  1. Give one word for each of the following descriptions:
    1. the change in phase of water from a gas to a liquid
    2. a charged atom
    3. a term used to describe the mineral content of water
    4. a gas that forms sulphuric acid when it reacts with water
  2. Match the information in column A with the information in column B by writing only the letter (A to I) next to the question number (1 to 7)
    Column A Column B
    1. A polar molecule A. H 2 SO 4
    2. molecular solution B. CaCO 3
    3. Mineral that increases water hardness C. NaOH
    4. Substance that increases the hydrogen ion concentration D. salt water
    5. A strong electrolyte E. calcium
    6. A white precipitate F. carbon dioxide
    7. A non-conductor of electricity G. potassium nitrate
    H. sugar water
    I. O 2
  3. For each of the following questions, choose the one correct answer from the list provided.
    1. Which one of the following substances does not conduct electricity in the solid phase but is an electrical conductor when molten?
      1. Cu
      2. PbBr 2
      3. H 2 O
      4. I 2
      (IEB Paper 2, 2003)
    2. The following substances are dissolved in water. Which one of the solutions is basic?
      1. sodium nitrate
      2. calcium sulphate
      3. ammonium chloride
      4. potassium carbonate
      (IEB Paper 2, 2005)
  4. Explain the difference between a weak electrolyte and a strong electrolyte. Give a generalised equation for each.
  5. What factors affect the conductivity of water? How do each of these affect the conductivity?
  6. For each of the following substances state whether they are molecular or ionic. If they are ionic, give a balanced reaction for the dissociation in water.
    1. Methane ( CH 4 )
    2. potassium bromide
    3. carbon dioxide
    4. hexane ( C 6 H 14 )
    5. lithium fluoride ( LiF )
    6. magnesium chloride
    Click here for the solution
  7. Three test tubes (X, Y and Z) each contain a solution of an unknown potassium salt. The following observations were made during a practical investigation to identify the solutions in the test tubes: A: A white precipitate formed when silver nitrate ( AgNO 3 ) was added to test tube Z. B: A white precipitate formed in test tubes X and Y when barium chloride ( BaCl 2 ) was added. C: The precipitate in test tube X dissolved in hydrochloric acid ( HCl ) and a gas was released. D: The precipitate in test tube Y was insoluble in hydrochloric acid.
    1. Use the above information to identify the solutions in each of the test tubes X, Y and Z.
    2. Write a chemical equation for the reaction that took place in test tube X before hydrochloric acid was added.
    (DoE Exemplar Paper 2 2007)

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
The fundamental frequency of a sonometer wire streached by a load of relative density 's'are n¹ and n² when the load is in air and completly immersed in water respectively then the lation n²/na is
Mukesh Reply
Properties of longitudinal waves
Sharoon Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 physical science [caps]. OpenStax CNX. Sep 30, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11305/1.7
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 physical science [caps]' conversation and receive update notifications?