Science Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

Why metals are highly reactive? Please, explain.

Expert Answers info

pacorz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write1,056 answers

starTop subjects are Science, Social Sciences, and Literature

All metals are reactive by definition, but two groups are considered to be much more highly reactive than the rest. The Alkali Metals group consists of the first row on the left side of the periodic table - lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium,and francium. These metals have just one electron in the outermost orbital, called a valence electron. They lose this electron very readily in reaction with other elements, becoming a +1 ion and releasing energy in the process; that's where the reaction comes from. A classic lab demonstration consists of putting a chunk of sodium into water, where it explodes violently. See the youtube link below for a demonstration of this - it's quite amazing!

The next column to the right, the Alkaline Earth Metals, consists of beryllium, magnesium, calcium, strontium, barium, and radium. TheseĀ  metals are not quite as reactive as the first group, but will still react- for instance, magnesium burns very readily. They have 2 valence electrons and will produce a +2 ion when reacting.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

medha897 | Student

Metals are highly reactive as they want to complete octet in their outermost shell to acquire stability.

giorgiana1976 | Student

First, let's make clear the following fact: not all metals are highly reactive, but the metals that belong to the group 1, that are called alkali metals. The reactivity of these metals is very high under normal conditions.

The outer layers of alkali metals contain 1 electron that is quickly lost when reacting with other chemical compunds.

As well as there are metals that are highly reactive, in contrast, there are metals that are highly non-reactive, such as gold.