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Topic: About Lithium oxidizing  (Read 13687 times)

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mamaartemis

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About Lithium oxidizing
« on: October 07, 2005, 01:02:23 PM »
My 12 year old daughter and I are studying the elements one at a time and making a photo album/scrapbook of each of our favorites.  We are complete chemistry novices.  We are learning about lithium right now and we have a couple of questions I can't seem to find the answers to.  I immediately thought of this forum, and hope you will have time to help us.  Our questions are these:

1.  We have read lithium oxidizes.  Oxidizing potatoes turn black, oxidizing metal rusts--what does lithium look like when it oxidizes?  Does the oxidation occur on exposure to the air?  If you had it in a dry room, would it oxidize away to nothing?

2.  If you put a small piece of lithium in a bowl of water, would it fizz away to nothing, kind of like an Alka Seltzer?

Many thanks for any *delete me*

Laura Peterson

Offline jdurg

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Re:About Lithium oxidizing
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2005, 01:22:23 PM »
Hi there Laura.  That's great that you're introducing your daughter to the field of chemistry.  There are so many neat things about the elements that I'm sure she'll really like.  If you click on the Periodic Table link over on the left, you'll be able to see a picture of all the elements on the periodic table.  If you are looking for a specific type of photograph, just let me know and I can take some more photographs of my elements and send them along to you.

Anyway, lithium metal is an alkali metal in group 1A of the periodic table.  All of the metals in this group are VERY reactive metals for numerous reasons.  Each of the metals will react with oxygen to form the metal oxides, and they react with water to form metal hydroxides and hydrogen gas.  The further down the column you go, the more violent the reaction is.  In water, lithium slowly fizzes and dissolves forming a solution of lithium hydroxide.  Sodium metal reacts more vigorously and tends to catch fire and some times explode.  Potassium will always catch fire and usually explodes.  Rubidium will catch fire upon exposure to the atmosphere and explodes violently in water.  Cesium will also catch fire if exposed to a normal atmosphere and reacts incredibly quickly with water.

In addition to reacting with oxygen/water, lithium will also react with nitrogen in the air forming Lithium nitride.  The oxidation caused by reactions with atmospheric moisture and oxygen, in addition to nitrogen, turns lithium into a dull and dark gray color.  The lithium picture I have on the periodic table here has a slight bit of the dark oxidation which can be seen if you look closely.
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Garneck

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Re:About Lithium oxidizing
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2005, 03:44:41 PM »
2.  If you put a small piece of lithium in a bowl of water, would it fizz away to nothing, kind of like an Alka Seltzer?

Yes, only Alka Seltzer fizzes away (as you say) CO2 and lithium - H2

mamaartemis

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Re:About Lithium oxidizing
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2005, 08:03:25 PM »
Many thanks jdurg and Garneck!  Alka Seltzer we have a relationship with, so that helps us understand and picture lithium.

Jdurg, my daughter and I are both astounded by the many cool attributes we are finding out about the various elements.  I'm wondering why all this glorious stuff doesn't get taught in school.  We downloaded your periodic table--it's great!

Thank you both again!
Laura


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Re:About Lithium oxidizing
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2005, 07:13:33 PM »
How did you get your lithium? I've been wanting some to make lithium hydroxide as jdurg explained, but I haven't found anything.
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Offline constant thinker

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Re:About Lithium oxidizing
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2005, 08:07:07 PM »
I wish my parents were more intrested in chemistry.

They do teach it in school. Just at the high school level. Word of wise be careful what your working with. I'm only 16 and I've already gotten a couple of nasty chemical burns.

I've come close to passing out before all though that was when I was cleaning my bath tub and forgot to put a fan blowing air around. Enjoy chemistry is lots of fun. Try simple expirements also.
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Re:About Lithium oxidizing
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2005, 08:15:15 PM »
I got my lithium in my current collection from a friend of mine who works at a lithium ion battery research company.  He had some scrap Li and gave it to me.  I just recently purchased a sizeable chunk of lithium metal from Dave Hamric over at www.elementsales.com.  
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Offline constant thinker

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Re:About Lithium oxidizing
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2005, 08:17:30 PM »
This is kinda off topic but I just saw a 9V lithium battery lying around and was wondering if it would yield a considerable amount of lithium in any form. If it's in a form other than it's elemental what would it be?

I also remembered this cool website with some cool things on it.
http://scitoys.com/
« Last Edit: October 08, 2005, 08:35:34 PM by constant thinker »
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Re:About Lithium oxidizing
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2005, 09:33:50 PM »
Lithium batteries contain a foil of lithium metal acting as an anode, I believe.  (Right now I'm having a brain fart so it might the the cathode).  So the batteries do contain elemental lithium.  The problem is that the lithium is in the form of a foil so it reacts VERY quickly with moisture and the air around it.  It is possible to procure lithium from the batteries, but it's a bit of a pain in the butt.
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