Properties of Transition Metals (chemistry only)

Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table

Transition Metals

The transition elements share some physical properties with all metals:

  • they conduct electricity
  • they are shiny when freshly cut

Some properties of transition elements are different from those of the metals in group 1. Compared to other metals, most transition metals have the general properties of:

  • higher melting points
  • higher densities
  • greater strength
  • greater hardness
  • form coloured compounds
  • have catalytic activity as pure metals, and as compounds

The following elements have properties that are typical of transition elements:

  • chromium, Cr
  • manganese, Mn
  • iron, Fe
  • cobalt, Co
  • nickel, Ni
  • copper, Cu

Colours of Transition Metal Ions

Iron forms multiple coloured compounds:

  • iron(II) hydroxide - pale green
  • iron(III) hydroxide - orange/brown
  • iron(III) oxide - red/brown

Reactions of Transition Metals

Not only are there differences in the physical properties of transition metals compared to group 1 metals, there are differences in the chemical properties too.

The group 1 elements react quickly with oxygen in the air at room temperature. Most transition elements react slowly, or not at all, with oxygen at room temperature.

copper + oxygen → copper oxide

Cu(s) + O2(g) → CuO(s)

The group 1 elements react vigorously with cold water. Most transition elements react slowly with cold water, or not at all.

The group 1 elements react vigorously with the halogens. Some transition elements also react with halogens.

iron + chlorine → iron(III) chloride

Fe(s) + Cl2(g) → FeCl3(s)