And if it did, it's producing gas so slowly that very little would still be close enough to be ignited.Sodium and potassium are the happy medium: They produce lots of hydrogen gas, and they do it fast enough that it is still around when they get hot enough to ignite it. An experiment was set up to demonstrate how these metals reacted by dropping them in water, with the expectation that the heavier alkali metals would be more potent. (If you're not familiar with what alkali metal ampules look like,this clip shows me removing a 5 gram rubidium ampule from the ammunition box we kept our stock in. . In a very real sense the slightly lower rate of reaction of sodium compared to potassium makes it a perfect time fuse, an essential component in any fuel-air bomb.With potassium you tend to get very energetic, but basically small-scale explosions of gas: It reacts and heats up so rapidly that the gas is ignited before much has accumulated. Sodium and potassium are the happy medium: They produce lots of hydrogen gas, and they do it fast enough that it is still around when they get hot enough to ignite it. (If you're not familiar with what alkali metal ampules look like, shows me removing a 5 gram rubidium ampule from the ammunition box we kept our stock in.). Enough talk, on to the videos. What demonstration do you use to teach group relationships in the periodic table? That means wearing eye protection atall times when handling sodium or any alkali metal. Second, and this part doesn't always happen, the heat generated by the first part of the reaction ignites the hydrogen gas, which burns, sometimes explosively, in the surrounding air. A few seasons ago Brainiac broadcast an episode in which they claimed to show what happens when approximately two grams of each of the five alkali metals (lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, and cesium) are thrown into a tub of water. alkali metal created that hydrogen gas: Hydrogen is hydrogen, regardless of its source. Punjab Group of Colleges. And this brings into play an important fact: When you go down the periodic table from lithium to cesium, the atomic weight goes up from 6.94 to 132.9. And remember while you're watching it that the whole thing is fake. I explain this theory, which was supported by the fact that we often found exciting little bits of explosive material on the surrounding concrete (which we rendered safe by use of a large squirt gun). When my British film producer friend Max Whitby and I set out to film a series of alkali metal explosions, we took every possible precaution. Sometimes more or less the same thing happens with sodium (for example, if a small piece breaks off and heats up rapidly, it might ignite the gas sooner than normal). Recommended Videos. That's when I start to cringe, because I know that all that time it's building up an invisible plume of hydrogen-air mixture which, sooner or later, is going to make a really loud bang. The reactivity of alkali metals increases as you go down the group and so rubidium was shown in the programme to completely obliterate a bathtub. This is a bit harder to explain. Jul 4, 2008. The crew took the decision to rig the bathtub with explosives to acquire footage fitting the gaudiness of the show. I wouldn't particularly enjoy having cesium splashed on my feet: Depending on the quantity I would experience burns up to a fairly serious level. That's basically a risk I'm willing to take. But given the level of precautions we took, and the severity of that possible consequence, I chose not to wear long pants on a hot day. The behavior of large pieces is very different from that of small pieces, and on my sodium party page you can read numerous stories contributed by people who have experienced first hand the unpredictable nature of this beast.

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