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Thermal stability of Group 1:

Group 1 compounds are more stable to heat than the corresponding

compounds in Group 2.

In Group 1, lithium nitrate decomposes on heat producing lithium oxide,
brown fumes of nitrogen dioxide and oxygen.

The rest of the Group, however, don't decompose so completely (at least not
at Bunsen temperatures) - producing the metal nitrite and oxygen, but no
nitrogen dioxide.

All the nitrates from sodium to caesium decompose in this same way

As you go down the Group, the decomposition gets more difficult, and you
have to use higher temperatures.

In Group 1, lithium carbonate decompose on heat producing lithium oxide and
carbon dioxide.

The rest of the Group 1 carbonates don't decompose at Bunsen temperatures,

although at higher temperatures they will.

The decomposition temperatures again increase as you go down the Group.

The Group 2 hydrogencarbonates like calcium hydrogencarbonate are so unstable to
heat that they only exist in solution.
Any attempt to get them out of solution causes them to decompose to give the
carbonate, carbon dioxide and water.

By contrast, the Group 1 hydrogencarbonates are stable enough to exist as solids,

although they do decompose easily on heating.

Thermal decomposition & stability trends of Group 1 and Group 2


The lower down the metal in the group the more thermally stable is its
hydroxide, nitrate, carbonate or sulphate etc.

Group 1 compounds tend to be more thermally stable than group 2


Group 1 Nitrates:

 lithium nitrate is the least stable and decomposes readily on heating to

form lithium oxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxygen.
 4LiNO3(s) ==> 2Li2O(s) + 4NO2(g) + O2(g)
 The other group 1 Alkali Metal nitrates [NO3–, nitrate(V)] decompose to
form the nitrite [NO2–, nitrate(III)] salt and oxygen gas. Lithium is
anomalous due to the particularly high polarising power of the Li+ ion.
 2MNO3(s) ==> 2MNO2(s) + O2(g) (M = Na, K, Rb, Cs)
 Group 2 Nitrates:
o For M = Mg, Ca, Sr, Ba the nitrate decompose to form the metal
oxide, nasty brown nitrogen dioxide [nitrogen(IV) oxide] gas and
oxygen gas when strongly heated.
o 2M(NO3)2(s) ==> 2MO(s) + 4NO2(g) + O2(g) (M = Be?, Mg, Ca, Sr,
o Thermal Tdecomp order Ba(NO3)2 > Sr(NO3)2 > Ca(NO3)2 >
Mg(NO3)2 > BeNO3)2
 Group 1 and Group 2 hydroxides
o The general thermal decomposition equations are ...
 Group 1: 2MOH(s) ==> M2O(s) + H2O(g) (M = Li, Na, K,
Rb, Cs)
 Group 2: M(OH)2(s) ==> MO(s) + H2O(g) (M = Be?, Mg,
Ca, Sr, Ba)
 The thermal stability trend is just the same as for
carbonates, nitrates (and even sulphates) i.e. they become
more stable down the group with increasing atomic number
of the metal M.
 So for group 1 the Tdecomp sequence is CsOH >
RbOH > KOH > NaOH > LiOH
 and for group 2 the Tdecomp sequence is Ba(OH)2 >
Sr(OH)2 > Ca(OH)2 > Mg(OH)2 > Be(OH)2

Comparing the stabilities of Group 1 and Group 2 compounds:

 Group 1 compounds are more stable than group 2 compounds,

particularly when group adjacent elements on the same period.
 The reason being the polarising effect of the group I cation M+, is much
less than the polarising power of the smaller and more highly charged
group II M2+ ion, particularly when comparing adjacent metals on the
same period.
o The group 2 cation is both smaller and more highly charged than
the corresponding group 1 cation.

 Solubiity
 Solubility of the carbonates increases as you go down Group 1.
 Solubility of the hydroxides increases as you go down Group 1.

 Note: peroxides and superoxides also act as oxidizing agents since they react with H2O forming
H2O2 and O2 respectively.

 Solubility Trends of Group 2 compounds

 The hydroxides M(OH)2, get more soluble down the group

 The sulphates, MSO4, get less soluble down the group.
 The carbonates, MCO3, get less soluble down the group.
 The hydroxides become more soluble as you go down the Group.
 The sulphates become less soluble as you go down the Group.
 The carbonates tend to become less soluble as you go down the Group.
Some examples of the uses of Group 1 and 2 Metals and their

 MCl & MCl2 The Group 1 and Group 2 chlorides are used as sources of
metal extraction by electrolysis.
 Na & Mg Sodium and magnesium are then used to extract titanium from
its chloride by displacement.
 Na Sodium vapour is used in the yellow–orange street lamps.
 NaCl Sodium chloride 'common salt' is used as a food flavouring and
preservative, source of chlorine, hydrogen,sodium metal and sodium
hydroxide via electrolytic processes.
 NaHCO3 is used in baking powders – heat or a weak organic acid (e.g.
citric acid) is used in baking powders to form carbon dioxide gas to
produce the 'rising' action in baking.
 Na2CO3 Sodium carbonate is used in the manufacture of glass and the
treatment of hard water.
 NaOH Sodium hydroxide, an important strong alkali, is used in the
manufacture of sodium salts, soaps, detergents, bleaches, rayon.
 KNO3 Potassium nitrate is used in NPK fertilisers.
 Mg Magnesium metal is used in the manufacture of alloys, particularly
those of aluminium.
 Mg(OH)2 Magnesium hydroxide is used in antacid indigestion powders
to neutralise excess stomach (hydrochloric) acid. When magnesium
hydroxide mixed with water it is known commercially as 'milk of
magnesia' as an antacid remedy avoiding the use indigestion tablets.
 CaCO3 Calcium carbonate (limestone) and calcium oxide (quicklime,
from thermal decomposition of limestone in kiln) are both used in
agriculture to reduce the acidity of soil to improve its fertility.
 CaCO3 Limestone is used directly as building and road foundation
 CaCO3 Limestone is heated with clay (aluminium silicates) to make
 BaSO4 Barium sulphate is used in medicine for X–ray colonoscopy of
the bowel ('barium meal'), the dense white solid shows up clearly as a
white or dark shadow and hence the physical topography of the