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
, 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:
Order of Abundance
- 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:
Interesting Facts about Alkali Metals
More on the Elements and the Periodic Table
More Chemistry Subjects
- 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.