Experiment 9: Iron & Copper reactivity


Study the relative reactivity of metals like iron and copper

Materials required:

  • Iron nails
  • 5% Copper sulphate
  • Dilute sulphuric acid
  • Dropper
  • Test tube holder
  • Test Tubes


  • Take the beaker and add about 20mL of water in it
  • Pour about a 2gm of copper sulphate in water and shake well to dissolve it
  • Add a 4-5 drops of dilute sulphuric acid to the solution by using dropper
  • Drop an iron piece (nail, blade, etc.) into the solution
  • After nearly half an hour observe the change in the colour of blade as well as of copper sulphate solution


  • The blue colour solution of copper sulphate first fades and then changes to green and a brown deposit is formed on the shaving blade.


  • Copper metal which is brown in colour is deposited on shaving blade due to its displacement from copper sulphate by iron.
  • Green colour of the solution is due to the formation of iron sulphate.
  • Copper sulphate (blue) + Iron (grey) → Iron sulphate (light green) + Copper (brown)


  • Different metals have different reactivities with chemical reagents. The metals that form positive ions by losing electrons more readily. A more reactive metal displaces a less reactive metal from salt solution. Such reactions are called displacement reactions.
    • Aluminium is more reactive than zinc.
    • Zinc is more reactive than Fe.
    • Fe is more reactive than Cu.

The below table gives you an understanding of the colours exhibited by the metals and their salts:

Compound name Formula Colour
Aluminium sulphate Al2(SO4)3 Colourless
Copper sulphate CuSO4 Blue
Zinc sulphate ZnSO4 Colourless
Ferrous sulphate FeSO4 Light green
Copper Cu Reddish brown
Aluminium Al White
Zinc Zn Silver white
Iron Fe Blackish grey