AQA GCSE Chemistry

Revision Notes

1.3.2 Transition Metals vs. Alkali Metals

Difference in Properties between the Transition Metals & Group I Elements

  • The transition elements are located between Groups 2 and 3 in the centre of the periodic table
  • They have all of the typical properties of metals but there are some key differences between them and the Group 1 metals

Transition metals in Periodic Table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

The transition elements on the Periodic table

  • All of the group 1 metals form ions with a +1 charge while the transition metals can form ions with variable charges
  • For example iron can form an Fe2+ ion or an Fe3+ ion
  • The transition metals are much harder, stronger and denser than the group 1 metals, which are very soft and light
  • They have much higher melting points e.g. titanium melts at 1,688 ºC whereas potassium melts at only 63.5 ºC, not far off the average cup of tea!
  • The transition metals are much less reactive than the group 1 metals
  • The alkali metals react with water, oxygen and halogens while the transition metals either react very slowly or do not react at all
  • A classic example of this is the reaction with oxygen
  • A group 1 metal will tarnish in the presence of oxygen as a metal oxide is formed
  • When cut with a knife, the shiny appearance of the metal disappears in seconds as it is covered by the dull metal oxide
  • Iron on the other hand can take several weeks to react with oxygen to form iron oxide (rust) and requires the presence of water

Exam Tip

Although scandium and zinc are in the transition metal area of the Periodic table, they are not considered transition elements as they do not form coloured compounds and have only one oxidation state.

Author: Francesca

Fran has taught A level Chemistry in the UK for over 10 years. As head of science, she used her passion for education to drive improvement for staff and students, supporting them to achieve their full potential. Fran has also co-written science textbooks and worked as an examiner for UK exam boards.
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