Properties & Uses of Compounds of Group 2 Elements

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  • 0:04 Group 2 Elements
  • 0:29 Properties of Group 2 Elements
  • 1:17 Preparation and Uses
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Group 2 elements make up many of the materials you depend upon on a daily basis. This lesson will go over properties of group 2 elements and then will delve into the processing and uses of some compounds containing this group.

Group 2 Elements

Take a look at the periodic table and you might see a jumble of elements, but if you look closer, the periodic table can give you all sorts of usable information. For example, take a look at the numbers above each column.

Note the IIA above Be. This indicates this column is group 2 elements
periodic table

Those numbers are called groups and each group of elements has specific characteristics. This lesson will focus on group 2 elements. Let's take a closer look at the properties they all share.

Properties of Group 2 Elements

Group 2 elements are often referred to as the alkaline earth metals because

  • they form an alkaline (or basic) solution when they are combined with water
  • they can be found naturally in the earth
  • they are metals

So, the name 'alkaline earth metals' is pretty fitting, don't you think? This group includes beryllium, magnesium, calcium, strontium, barium, and radium.

Being in group 2 means they all have two valence electrons, or the electrons that are furthest away from the nucleus. These valence electrons are typically the electrons involved in reactions. Having two valence electrons makes this group reactive, meaning the elements want to combine with other elements, not just water. Other characteristics most share include being soft and silvery.

Preparation and Uses

Group 2 elements are ingredients in many important materials from cement to face cream. Let's look at some examples in more depth.

Oxides are formed when an element reacts with oxygen. Quicklime is one such oxide, specifically, calcium oxide. It's been used for centuries, dating back to the ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. Today it's used in the manufacturing of numerous goods such as varnish, paper, soap, and rubber. It is also used as plaster and mortar. What's the group 2 element in quicklime? If you check out the periodic table, you will see that calcium is a group 2 element.

Preparation of quicklime is relatively straightforward and it can be made by taking seashells, limestone, or chalk, all of which contain calcium carbonate, and heating them to extremely high temperatures (1,000 degrees Celsius) in a kiln. As it gets hot, the calcium oxide breaks down into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide.

Another important material involving calcium is plaster of Paris, which gets its name because a major ingredient (gypsum) can be mined near Paris. Plaster of Paris is best known as the ingredient used in making casts for broken bones, but it's also used for sculptures and plasterboard walls. It's made by taking calcium sulfide dihydrate, otherwise known as gypsum, and heating it to 120-180 degrees Celsius. This causes the gypsum to lose the water thus becoming plaster of Paris.

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