water chemistry

Demonstration: Reaction of Magnesium and Silver Nitrate

Starting materials for demonstration

I found a version of this demonstration online a couple of years ago. I admit, when I first tried it with my class it was mostly for a crowd pleaser to demonstrate the activity series of metals, but I then became very intrigued by the processes occurring. The original source only referenced the “single replacement reaction” between Mg(s) and AgNO3(aq). Therefore, when I saw a grayish product (silver) I was not surprised. However, I was surprised by the white flash and the production of a white product, which were reminiscent of the classic combustion of magnesium demonstration. This led to some research and my conclusions that follow. Read through to the end and you will find a video of the demo.

Time required: 

30 minutes including preparation time.

JCE 92.04—April 2015 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education April 2015 Cover

Chemists Celebrate Earth Day

The April 2015 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available for subscribers at http://pubs.acs.org/toc/jceda8/92/4. This issue features articles on atmospheric and environmental chemistry. Also featured in this issue are: microfluidic devices; problem solving strategies; information literacy; kinetics & thermodynamics; investigations of gases and organic synthesis; outreach.