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Name: Niharika
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Country: India
Date: April 7, 2011


Question:
Why do Fe and Pt not form amalgams? What is the basis for a metal to form or not form an amalgam? And can only metals form amalgams?



Replies:
Start with a chart of the periodic table. "X" out the obvious non-metals, e.g. F2, Cl2, O2 etc. "X" out the unlikely elements, even metals, the rare earth metals, Lanthinum etc., Uranium, etc. "X" out the highly reactive hazardous metals such as Na, K, Rb, Cs etc. "Y" out unlikely metalloid candidates such as Bi.

Now you have a reasonably few metallic elements remaining so that you can start doing some chemical testing. This also means you may have to look up some properties of metals. I will give you one hint, but the others are yours to test and eliminate and/or confirm. Aluminum, among the remaining metals, passes the tests above, plus it reacts with strong bases (pH > 10) evolving hydrogen gas.

Keep doing this for the remaining elements -- both the physical and chemical properties. You will find that the remaining metals that pass the tests above are few.

Chemical identification is frequently a process of elimination. This is your exposure to that procedure, which is the purpose of the experiment.

Good Searching (not good luck). You don't need luck.

Vince Calder



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