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There is something known as the activity series of metals. It is a list of the metals in order based on reactivity. For example, calcium is more reactive that magnesium, therefore calcium is higher on the list. Basically, when it comes to single replacement reactions, if you have a calcium ion or atom in the presence of a compound with magnesium in it, the calcium will replace the magnesium in the compound.

Now, this is relevant because the 5 most reactive metals, lithium, potassium, strontium, calcium and sodium, are so reactive that they actually displace the hydrogen in water, making hydrogen gas and a hydroxide (with the metal).

Potassium + Water = Potassium Hydroxide + Hydrogen gas.

These 5 elements are so reactive because of their low ionization energies. They want to lose electrons and become part of a compound; even more so that a hydrogen atom does. So they will replace the hydrogen atom because it requires less energy to do so.

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Q: Why does sodium and potassium reacts when placed in water?
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Related questions

Sodium and potassium reacts vioently with water is that a chemical or physical change?

chemical change

What does sodiom react to?

pure sodium reacts to just about everything... it even explodes when placed in water

How does drinking water after sweating affect the sodium potassium balance the body?

because the levels of it goes high when reacts to water after losing it

What metal reacts with water to cause an explosion?

there are some alkali metals. It can be sodium or potassium.

How is the way the element sodium reacts with water different from the way the compound sodium chloride reacts with water?

Sodium reacts violently with water, while sodium chloride (or table salt) dissolves in water.

Which element reacts more rapidly in water lithium or potassium?

Potassium (K) reacts most rapidly with water.

Why should sodium and potassium be removed as a matter of urgency from a floode laboratory?

Metallic sodium or potassium reacts violently with water and may cause an explosion, if the hydrogen that is released by the reaction has the right proportion to the oxygen in the air.

What happens if sodium methoxide 25 percent in methanol reacts with water?

The sodium methoxide reacts with the water to produce sodium hydroxide an methanol.

Why is sodium not used to make knives and forks?

Potassium's melting point is 336.53 K (63.38°C or 146.08°F) which means that any spoon that is made of potassium would simply dissolve if placed into hot/boiling liquids such as tea, coffee or soup.

What is the reaction for potassium chloride and water?

Potassium reacts rapidly and vigorously with water to produce colourless basic potassium hydroxide solution. In this reaction hydrogen gas is liberated. This reaction is highly exothermic. On evolution of heat potassium becomes purplish.2 K (solid) + 2 H2O (liquid) -> 2 KOH (aqueous) + H2 (gas)Additionally, hydrogen released during the reaction strongly reacts with oxygen and ignites. Potassium reacts with water more slowly than does rubidium. It reacts with water more rapidly than does sodium.

Does water react with sodium?

Yes, sodium reacts violently with water.

What is alkali formed when sodium reacts with cold water?

Sodium reacts with water to produce Sodium hydroxide and Hydrogen gas.2Na + 2H2O = 2NaOH + H2