Alkali Metal Safety


lithium and water

Many teachers demonstrate the reaction of lithium, sodium and potassium with water when discussing the trend in reactivity of the alkali metals. In order to conduct this demo safely, it is imperative that only a small quantity of metal is used and that appropriate safety precautions are observed. Otherwise, you might be in store for an unexpected and potentially disastrous outcome like shattered glassware and hot metal “launching” out of the reaction vessel. But how “small” is “small”?

Watch Reactivity of Metals to find out! In the process, you’ll also get some great advice on how to safely conduct this demo. Reactivity of Metals is one of six videos in STAO’s Fire Safety series. All the videos in this series, along with their worksheets and teachers notes, are available for download or use in your classroom or for training new staff.   Check out the teacher Resources section of the STAO website for more details at stao.ca. School boards vary in their policies towards the use of the alkali metals.  Always check your board protocols before using these substances.

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