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Extracting metals with charcoal

Description

This extraction experiment consists of two competition reactions. A metal oxide is reacted with charcoal. If the charcoal (carbon) is more reactive it will remove the oxygen from the metal oxide and leave a trace of metal in the reaction vessel. Start with an oxide of lead, then observe what happens to an oxide of copper.

Credits

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This is an experiment from the Practical Chemistry project, developed by the Nuffield Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry.
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Apparatus Chemicals

Eye protection

Each student or pair of students will require:

Small, hard glass test-tubes (ignition) tubes, 3 (Note 1)

Test-tube holder

Test-tube rack

Spatula

Plastic weighing dish (boat)

Heat resistant mat

Powdered charcoal, about 2 g

Copper(II) oxide (HARMFUL, DANGEROUS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT), about 1 g

Lead(II) oxide (TOXIC, DANGEROUS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT), about 1 g

Refer to Health & Safety and Technical notes section below for additional information.

 







This extraction experiment consists of two competition reactions. A metal oxide is reacted with charcoal. If the charcoal (carbon) is more reactive it will remove the oxygen from the metal oxide and leave a trace of metal in the reaction vessel. Start with an oxide of lead, then observe what happens to an oxide of copper.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

This is a resource from the Practical Chemistry project, developed by the Nuffield Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry. This collection of over 200 practical activities demonstrates a wide range of chemical concepts and processes. Each activity contains comprehensive information for teachers and technicians, including full technical notes and step-by-step procedures. Practical Chemistry activities accompany Practical Physics and Practical Biology.

The experiment is also part of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Continuing Professional Development course: Chemistry for non-specialists