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The Reactivity Series

What are Ionic Equations?

The displacement reactions can be written as ionic equations.
In the example using iron and copper(II) sulfate (previous page)

iron copper(II) sulfate   arrow    iron sulfate  copper.
Fe(s)    +     CuSO4(aq)      arrow       FeSO4(aq)  +     Cu(s)

Copper(II) sulfate and iron sulfate are ionic compounds.
When they are dissolved in water
the ions become separated by the water molecules.

If we write the equation showing the ions we have

Fe(s)  +  Cu2+(aq)SO42-(aq) arrow Fe2+(aq)  +  SO42-(aq)  +  Cu(s)

In going from reactants to products
iron metal - Fe(s)  has become iron ions - Fe2+(aq)
copper ions - Cu2+(aq)  have become copper metalCu(s)
sulfate ions - SO42-(aq) are not changed during the reaction.
ulfate ions are the same on the left and the right
side of the arrow. Ions which do not change
during the reaction are called spectator ions.

Spectator ions can be left out of the equation, giving

Fe(s)  +  Cu2+(aq)   arrow   Fe2+(aq)  +  Cu(s)

This is the ionic equation
for the reaction between iron and copper(II) sulfate.
Iron is oxidised and copper is reduced.

Similarly, the reaction
between tin and lead chloride may be written as

Sn(s)   +   Pb2+(aq)    arrow         Sn2+(aq)   +   Pb(s)

Tin is oxidised and lead is reduced.

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