Sodium with Chlorine

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Summary

A small chunk of sodium metal is placed in a flask containing chlorine gas. Initially, no reaction is observed, but addition of a drop of water to the sodium initiates a vigorous reaction. The 24 thumbnail images summarize the content of the video. Click an image to see the image gallery.

Narration

Discussion

When sodium is first placed in the flask full of chlorine, no reaction occurs. This is probably because the temperature is low and because there is a coating of sodium oxide, sodium peroxide, or sodium chloride on the surface of the metal. (Sodium does not inflame in air at room temperature, probably for the same reason, although spontaneous combustion often occurs after some minutes.) When a drop of water is added, the oxide, peroxide, or chloride coating on the surface is dissolved, and the water reacts exothermically with the sodium, raising the temperature. Probably both of these effects contribute to speeding up the reaction, which produces the bright yellow flame seen in the video.

Narration

A small piece of sodium metal is placed in a flask containing yellow chlorine gas. The flask also contains sand to prevent the heat which will be generated by the reaction from cracking the glass. Initially, no reaction is observed between the sodium and the chlorine. The reaction will be initiated by adding a drop of water to the sodium.

Discussion

When sodium is first placed in the flask full of chlorine, no reaction occurs. This is probably because the temperature is low and because there is a coating of sodium oxide, sodium peroxide, or sodium chloride on the surface of the metal. (Sodium does not inflame in air at room temperature, probably for the same reason, although spontaneous combustion often occurs after some minutes.) When a drop of water is added, the oxide, peroxide, or chloride coating on the surface is dissolved, and the water reacts exothermically with the sodium, raising the temperature. Probably both of these effects contribute to speeding up the reaction, which produces the bright yellow flame seen in the video.

Keywords

Oxidation / Reduction | Reactions

These ChemEd DL Resource Groups Include This Video

Reactions with Sodium
Reactions: Alkali Metals with Other Elements
Alkali Metals Reactions
Reactions: Chlorine
Halogens
Flames and Explosions, Other Than Combustion Reactions
Combination Reactions


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