Table of Contents
- Alkali Metals Group
- Group 1A Elements
- Properties of Alkali Metals
- Uses of Alkali Metals
- Lesson Summary
The alkali metals group consists of six specific elements on the Periodic Table of Elements. These six elements can be found in the first vertical column on the periodic table underneath the first element, Hydrogen. These six elements can also be called Group 1 or Group 1A elements as well, because they are in the first vertical column on the periodic table. The name alkali metals stems from an Arabic word, al qaliy, meaning calcified ashes.
In this image, focus on the location of the dark red elements on the far left side of the table. This provides a visual of the location of these six elements discussed in this lesson.
What are Group 1 elements called? These elements are called alkali metals because of the alkaline compounds that they make when in combination with water. Alkaline compounds make hydroxides after they have been reacted in water, which is a basic solution. Basic solutions are often referred to as being alkaline.
These elements can be found in nature but are highly reactive and are difficult to find in an unreacted state as a result.
There are six elements that make up the alkali metals. Those six elements are:
A mnemonic device to remember these elements in order would be: Little Naughty Kids Ruin Chocolates Forever.
The elements within each family on the periodic table tend to have the same properties as other elements within that family. The alkali metals are no exception to that generalization. Alkali metals all have the same physical and chemical properties:
|Properties of Alkali metals|
|Soft, Grey Metals|
|Very reactive, especially in water|
|contain one valence electron in the outer shell|
|high thermal and electrical conductivity|
|high luster (shiny)|
The defining characteristic of the alkali metals is the reactivity that they have towards water. This reactivity is directly related to having only one valence electron. By only having one valence electron, the alkali metals are very close to establishing a full valence shell for which all atoms strive. The one valence electron of the alkali metals will actually create distance from the nucleus in hopes to entice a non-metal to pull the electron away in the form of an ionic bond.
The loss of the valence electron mentioned in the previous section leads to the alkali metals creating a charged particle known as an ion. An ion refers to the form of an element that is electrically charged due to the loss/gain of an electron in order to create a full valence shell of electrons.
Since alkali metals have one valence electron in the elemental form, the loss of that one electron to create an ion makes the charge a positive one. The positive one charge refers to the relationship between the number of protons to the number of electrons. Positive 1 charge means there is one more proton than electron. The term used in chemistry for an element that has formed a positive ion is called a cation.
As an element that forms a positive charge, it is essential for it to bond with an element that is able to make a negative charge. Negatively charged ions, called anions, are non-metals in nature. The combination of a cation and an anion into a compound creates an ionic bond.
Alkali metals are all very soft metals. This tends to surprise many people because metals are often thought to be hard, dense building materials. Alkali metals do not fit into that generalization, however. In fact, alkali metals are so soft that they can easily be cut with a butter knife.
The fact that an element would be hard or soft at room temperature relates to that element's melting point. Concerning the location on the periodic table, the melting point of each alkali metal decreases as the location on the table gets lower.
Find a list of the melting and boiling points of each alkali metal in the table:
|Name of element||melting point (C)||boiling point (C)|
Alkali metals are interesting elements for many reasons mentioned in the prior section, but they can be very useful as well. Alkali metals are used every day for table salt and fertilizer. They are also useful for scientific research.
Discover some of the most notable uses of the alkali metals below:
The first column on the periodic table, known as the alkali metals, is often referred to as Group 1 or Group 1A elements. There are six metals that are classified as alkali metals. They can be found at the furthest point left on the periodic table. The six elements include lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, and francium. The properties of the alkali metals are unique from the other elements on the periodic table.
Here is a summary of some of their most unique properties:
Alkali metals are known to be very reactive in nature due to the single valence electron that they have in their elemental form. That single valence electron makes them so reactive that they are very rarely found in the unbonded form.
The one valence electron of the alkali metals leads them to form positive one charged ions. The loss of one valence electron to a non-metal leaves the atom with one more proton than electron, causing it to be classified as an ion.
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Group 1A metals are known to be highly reactive metals when contacted with water. They all have 1 valence electron and are highly reactive. These are soft metals that are typically a dull grey in color.
The word "alkali" received its name from the Arabic word "al qali," meaning "from ashes", which since these elements react with water to form hydroxide ions, creating alkaline solutions. Alkaline solutions are known to be basic in pH.
The alkali metals are found in the first vertical group on the periodic table. This group is known as Group 1, Group I, or Group IA.
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