AQA GCSE Chemistry

Revision Notes

1.3.1 Typical Properties of Transition Metals

Properties & Applications


  • Most of the known metals are transition metals and they have typical properties of metals
  • They are very lustrous, they are hard, strong and are good conductors of heat and electricity
  • They are highly dense metals and have very high melting points
  • Transition metals can have more than one oxidation state  as they can lose a different number of electrons, depending on the chemical environment they are in
  • The melting point, density and common ions of the elements Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni and Cu are shown below

Transition Metals Table

Transition metals table, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

  • Compounds containing transition elements in different oxidation states will have different properties and colours in aqueous solutions

Transition ion colours, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

The colours produced by ions of the transition elements

Exam Tip

Note that transition metals themselves do not display a range of colours, it is the compounds they form that are colourful



  • The transition elements are used extensively as catalysts which are substances that speed up the rate of a reaction without being used up in the process
  • They do not take part in the reaction
  • Their catalytic characteristics stem from their ability to interchange between a range of oxidation states
  • This allows them to form complexes with reagents which can easily donate and accept electrons from other chemical species within a reaction system
  • Common transition metal catalysts include:
    • Iron which is used in the Haber Process
    • Vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) which is used in the Contact Process to produce sulfuric acid
    • Nickel which is used in the hydrogenation of alkenes


  • The transition metals are also used in medicine and surgical applications such as limb and joint replacement
  • Titanium in particular is useful as it is the only element that can bond with bones due to its high biocompatibility

Other Industrial Applications

  • They are also used to form coloured compounds in dyes and paints for both household and industrial applications
  • They are used in creating stained glass, jewellery and in anti-corrosive materials

Exam Tip

You should be able to recall at least two applications of the transition elements and state why they are used in that application.

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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