"Metal displacement" experiment
How to obtain metallic silver and copper from their salts
This impressive and fun experiment shows how you can make metallic silver and copper out of solutions of their salts at home.
Reagents and equipment:
- copper chloride (II) (1 g);
- silver nitrate (0.1 g);
- distilled water;
- two test tubes;
- copper and iron wires;
- a stand.
Dissolve 1 g of copper chloride (II) in 35 ml of water. Then dissolve 0.1 of silver nitrate in 35 ml of water. Pour the solutions into two test tubes. Place an iron wire in the solution of copper chloride (II), and a copper wire in the solution of silver nitrate. Observe the change in the color of the surface of the metals, to orange and grey respectively.
All metals have reductive properties, i.e. the ability to give away their electrons. The electrochemical row of activity of metals is based on this property, in which the reductive activity decreases from left to right. Alkaline metals and calcium reduce oxygen even from water, but less active metals, for example magnesium, aluminum, zinc, iron and cadmium, only reduce oxygen from solutions of acids (apart from nitric acid). But if you immerse them in a solution of a salt of a less active metal, for example iron in a solution of a salt of copper, the more active metal will reduce, and the more active will pass into the solution, as we observe in this experiment. It’s important to remember that this row is only applicable to aqueous solutions.
You must wear gloves when working with solutions of salts of copper and silver. Do not pour out solutions of copper into the sink or near bodies of water, salts of copper are extremely poisonous for aquatic animals.
Warning! Substances of this experiment are toxic and highly dangerous for your health. Do not try this at home. Only under professional supervision.