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We see listed below two steels that can be exposed to water. The snapshot on the left is of sodium, which has a violent reaction once it comes in call with water. The picture on the appropriate is the silver, a metal so unreactive v water the it have the right to be made right into drinking vessels. Both metals have a solitary \(s\) electron in their outer shell, so you would predict a comparable reactivity from each. However, we have actually a tool that allows us come make far better predictions around how details elements will react with others.

You are watching: How is the activity series useful in predicting chemical behavior

Figure \(\PageIndex1\): top top the left, sodium reacts with water. On the right, silver- in the type of cups does no react through water.

The activity Series

Single-replacement reactions only take place when the facet that is law the instead of is much more reactive 보다 the facet that is gift replaced. Therefore, the is useful to have a list of elements in stimulate of their family member reactivity. The activity series is a list of elements in decreasing order of your reactivity. Because metals replace various other metals, while nonmetals replace various other nonmetals, castle each have a separate activity series. The table \(\PageIndex1\) listed below is one activity series of most typical metals, and the table \(\PageIndex2\) is an activity collection of the halogens.

Table \(\PageIndex1\): Activity collection of Metal facets Elements, from many to the very least reactiveReaction Occurring







React v cold water, instead of hydrogen.







React with steam, yet not cold water, replacing hydrogen.





Do no react through water. React v acids, instead of hydrogen.






Unreactive with water or acids.
Table \(\PageIndex2\): Activity series of Nonmetal facets Elements, from many to the very least reactive

For a single-replacement reaction, a given facet is capable of replacing an facet that is below it in the activity series. This can be provided to predict if a reaction will occur. Mean that small pieces the the metal nickel were placed into two different aqueous solutions: among iron (III) nitrate and one of lead (II) nitrate. Looking in ~ the task series, we check out that nickel is listed below iron, but over lead. Therefore, the nickel steel will be capable of instead of the command in a reaction, however will no be qualified of instead of iron.

See more: What Is The Formula Of Lithium Sulfide? ? Lithium Sulfide

\<\ceNi \left( s \right) + \cePb(NO_3)_2 \left( aq \right) \rightarrow \ceNi(NO_3)_2 \left( aq \right) + \cePb \left( s \right)\>

\<\ceNi \left( s \right) + \ceFe(NO_3)_3 \left( aq \right) \rightarrow \textNR (no reaction)\>

In the descriptions the accompany the activity series of metals, a given metal is also capable of undergoing the reaction described listed below that section. For example, lithium will react through cold water, instead of hydrogen. The will likewise react with steam and with acids, because that calls for a lower degree of reactivity.