Single Replacement Micro-Reactions - Experiment 10

This procedure will allow the student to develop a basic activity series through an exploration of single replacement reactions.

Materials Substitutions
Zinc galvanized nail
Aluminum foil
Copper copper wire
0.1 M CuSO4
0.1 M AgNO3
0.1 M ZnSO4
1 M HCl
8 watch glasses or a spot plate
8 pipets


  1. Using either a spot plate or 8 watch-glasses, arrange the solids (one small piece or the amount that would fit on the tip of a spatula) in the respective wells as show on the diagram below:


  2. Add approximately 10 drops of each required solution into each well.
  3. Record any color changes or gas production.
  4. Write a balanced equation for any reactions that occur. Include physical state symbols for the reactants and products.
  5. Construct an activity series by listing the elements in decreasing order of reactivity.
    [e.g. Zn (s)+ Cu2+(aq) -> Cu (s) + Zn2+ (aq) implies that zinc is above copper in the activity series.]

Data and Observations


Teacher’s Notes
Anticipated reactions are:

I. Zn (s) + CuSO4 (aq) ——–> Cu (s) + ZnSO4 (aq)
Copper forms on zinc. Solution color becomes less blue.

II. 2Al (s) + 3CuSO4 (aq) ——–> 3Cu (s) + Al2(SO4)3 (aq)
Copper forms on aluminum.

III. Zn (s) + AgNO3 (aq) ———> Ag (s) + ZnSO4 (aq)
Silver crystals form on zinc.

IV. Cu (s) + 2AgNO3 (aq) ——–> 2Ag (s) + Cu(NO3)2 (aq)
Silver crystals grow on copper.

V. Zn (s) + Pb(NO3)2 (aq) ———> Pb (s) + Zn(NO3)2 (aq)
Dull gray lead forms on zinc.

VI. Cu (s) + Pb(NO3)2 (aq) ———> No Reaction.
Copper will not replace lead.

VII. Zn (s) + 2HCl (aq) ———> ZnCl2 (aq) + H2 (g)
Zinc reacts with the acid, and hydrogen gas is released.

VIII. 2Al (s) + 6HCl (aq) ———> 2AlCl3 (aq) + 3H2 (g)
Aluminum reacts with the acid, and hydrogen gas is released.

Activity series that is achievable by the reactions in this experiment:
Zn (Al)
Pb (Al)

Note that the position of aluminum in this series cannot be precisely determined. It is MORE ACTIVE than hydrogen.

Aqueous solutions of HCl, Zn(NO3)2, AgNO3, and Cu(SO4)2 may be flushed down the sink. Solutions of Pb(NO3)2 and Cu(NO3)2 should be evaporated, and the solid residue should be placed in a solid waste disposal container. Solid metals should also be placed in a solid waste container.