AQA GCSE Chemistry

Revision Notes

8.3.2 Metal Hydroxides

Metal Hydroxides

  • Metal cations in aqueous solution can be identified by the colour of the precipitate they form on addition of sodium hydroxide
  • If only a small amount of NaOH is used then normally the metal hydroxide precipitates
  • In excess NaOH some of the precipitates may dissolve
  • For this reason just a few drops of NaOH are added at first and very slowly
  • If it is added too quickly and the precipitate is soluble in excess, then you run the risk of missing the formation of the initial precipitate which dissolves as quickly as it forms if excess solution is added
  • A small amount is thus added, very gradually and any colour changes or precipitates formed are noted
  • Then the NaOH is added in excess and the reaction is observed again
  • Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions can be distinguished from Al3+ as calcium hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide precipitates do not dissolve in excess NaOH but aluminium hydroxide does
  • Another test could be used to distinguish between the Ca2+ and Mg2+  ions, for example a flame test
  • Most transition metals produce hydroxides with distinctive colours


Metal Hydroxide Precipitates Table, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Exam Tip

Be sure to distinguish between the term “colourless” and “clear”. A solution that loses its colour has become colourless. A clear solution is one that you can see through such as water. Solutions can be clear and have colour e.g: dilute copper sulphate.

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.

Join Save My Exams

Download all our Revision Notes as PDFs

Try a Free Sample of our revision notes as a printable PDF.

Join Now
Already a member?
Go to Top