ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Heating metals in air

  • Some metals react with oxygen in the air at ordinary (room) temperature
  • Others only react with oxygen if they are heated in air
  • They may do this readily and release large amounts of energy in the process
  • Some metals hardily react at all even at very high temperatures
  • The reactive metals are said to have a greater affinity for oxygen
  • They combine with it to form stable oxides
  • Such metals are not stable and thus have to be carefully stored so that they do not come into contact with air
  • Less reactive metals such as silver, gold and platinum will not react with oxygen
  • They are called inert metals and less often also known as noble metals
  • They are often valuable in economic terms
  • They usually have industrial uses and are often used as jewelry
  • The most reactive metals produce bright flames when they react with air
  • An example is magnesium which produces a blinding white light when it is burned in air
  • Such metals have a high affinity for oxygen
  • The word equation for the reaction of metal is and air is:
  • \text{metal + air }\rightarrow \text{metal oxide}

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page.