# I have some unknown metal. How to find out what it is?

Mar 31, 2015

You could determine its density and its specific heat capacity. Then compare your values to known values for the density and specific heat capacity of metals.

Here is a procedure to do this. (For specific heat, m means mass in grams, DT means change in temperature in degrees C, and $\text{C"_"p}$ means specific heat in $\text{J/g·"^("o")"C}$):
http://www.dbooth.net/mhs/chem/specificheat.html

This is a link to an interactive periodic table from the Royal Society of Chemistry. It has the accepted density for all elements in $\text{g/cm"^3}$, and specific heat in $\text{J/kg·K}$. To convert to $\text{J/kg·K}$ to $\text{J/g·"^("o")"C}$, divide by 1000.
http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table

Apr 1, 2015

A way would be to try and dissolve a small piece of the metal in different acids.

(1) If the metal reacts with water, you can think in the direction of $N a , K$ or even $C a , B a$. Hydrogen is given off.

(2) If you can dissolve it in diluted acid, it's a non-noble metal like $Z n , A l , F e$. Usually hydrogen bubbles appear.

(3) If you need an oxidising acid like sulfuric or nitric acid, the metal is nobler. Think $C u , A g$. Usually fumes of $S {O}_{2}$ (in case of sulfuric acid), or $N {O}_{x}$ (from nitric acid) will be given off

(4) If even that doesn't work, you're dealing with the real noble metals like $A u$ or $P t$, that will only 'dissolve' in aqua regia, a mixture of concentrated nitric and muriatic acid.

After dissolving, there are numerous precipitation tests to determine the exact kind of metal.