Activity Series of Metals


  1. Observe the reactivity of common metals. 
  2. Be able to predict the products of a single replacement reaction between a metal and an acid. 
  3. Be able to write and balance equations for these reactions. 



            An activity series is a list of metals arranged in order of decreasing strength as reducing agents.  Metals above hydrogen in the activity series replace hydrogen from acids and are termed active metals; metals below hydrogen do not displace hydrogen from acids and are termed inactive metals.  In this experiment you will construct an activity series based on your observations of replacement reactions. 


Safety: Wear chemical splash goggles at all times!  Be extremely cautious with the hydrochloric acid (HCl).  Acids are corrosive.  Report eye or skin contact to your teacher immediately.  Contact with eyes should be immediately treated with a 15 minute (minimum) eyewash.  In case of skin contact, affected areas should be rinsed thoroughly with water. 



  • 1 sample of each metal (Aluminum, Copper, Lead, Magnesium, Tin, Zinc)
  • 1 test tube rack
  • 6 empty test tubes
  • 1 dropper
  • 1 test tube of hydrochloric acid (HCl) – BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL!


Procedure:  (Read all steps before beginning!!)

  1. Label each test tube with the symbol of the metal to be placed in it.  Place the test tubes in the test tube rack. 
  2. Add a piece of each metal to the appropriate test tube. 
  3. Fill the dropper with HCl by using ONE SQUEEZE.  Add this amount (one squeeze) to one of the test tubes.  Repeat for each metal. 
  4. Observe and note the rate of gas production from each reaction and list each metal in order from least reactive to most reactive.  Look very carefully for at least 5-7 minutes.  It takes some reactions some time to get started.  Note whether the reaction tubes are hot or cold as the reaction occurs. 
  5. Dispose of all materials in the vent hood.  Rinse and wash all test tubes at the back sink and leave upside down to dry. 


Data Table – Reactions of metals with hydrochloric acid (HCl)


Reaction Description / Notes of Reactivity


(be detailed!  Look closely!)

Rank of Reaction

(1 = low; 6 = high)

Hot or cold?


























Write and balance the equations for each of the reactions.  Give the name of the metal compound formed by combining each metal with HCl acid. 























Construct an activity series for the metals.  The most reactive should be on top. 


Discuss what correlation there is between the order of the activity series and a metal’s position on the periodic table. 


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