Elements for Kids
The alkali metals are a group of elements in the periodic table. They are all in the first column of the periodic table. The only element in the first column that is not usually considered an alkali metal is hydrogen. Hydrogen and the alkali metals make up the group 1 elements of the periodic table.
What elements are alkali metals?
The elements of the alkali metals include lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, and francium. Click the links or see below for more details on each.
What are the similar properties of alkali metals?
Alkali metals share many similar properties including:
- They are shiny, soft, metals.
- They are very reactive.
- They all have one valence electron in the outermost shell which they seek to lose in order to have a full outer shell. This is what makes them so reactive.
- They are soft enough to be cut with a knife.
- When exposed to air, they tarnish due to oxidation.
- They are not found in nature as a free element, but generally as salts.
- They react when coming into contact with water. Some of them will even explode when they come into contact with water.
- They are malleable, ductile, and good conductors of electricity and heat.
- They have a low density when compared to other metals.
The most abundant of the alkali metals on Earth is sodium. Here is the list in order:
- Because they are so reactive with air and water, they are generally stored in oil.
- Cesium and rubidium are used to make atomic clocks. Cesium clocks are considered the most accurate of all clocks.
- Sodium and potassium both play an important role in biological life on Earth. We cannot live without them.
- Sometimes cesium is also spelled "caesium."
- They like to form salts by combining with halogens.
- The name "alkali" is derived from the Arabic word for "ashes."
- Different alkali metals burn with different colored flames including sodium (orange yellow), lithium (red), potassium (lilac), rubidium (red), and cesium (blue or violet).
- All alkali metals have odd atomic numbers.
- They are considered to be more similar to each other than any other group in the periodic table.
- The compound ammonium has very similar properties to the heavier alkali metals.
- When moving down the periodic table, each alkali metal has an increasing atomic radius as well as increasing reactivity.
More on the Elements and the Periodic Table
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