# What happens when sodium or potassium are left outside in the open?

Sep 11, 2016

Slow oxidation and hydrolysis of the surface of the metal.

#### Explanation:

When alkali metal is exposed in the lab, the surface of the metal is oxidized by air or water:

$N a \left(s\right) + \frac{1}{2} {O}_{2} \left(g\right) \rightarrow N a O \left(s\right)$

or

$N a \left(s\right) + {H}_{2} O \rightarrow N a O H \left(a q\right) + \frac{1}{2} {H}_{2} \left(g\right) \uparrow$

The hydrolysis reaction for both alkali metals is vigorous. The reaction of potassium is especially vigorous. You can destroy relatively large quantities of sodium with ethanol with little trouble; but this procedure would be extremely hazardous with potassium. Gram quantities of potassium (but not sodium) can be destroyed by 25% $\text{IPA}$ in toluene.

K(s) + Pr^(i)OH(l) rarr K^+""^(-)OPr^(i) + 1/2H_2(g)uarr