What is the Difference Between Electrochemical Series and Reactivity Series

The key difference between electrochemical series and reactivity series is that electrochemical series gives the order of the standard electrode potentials, whereas reactivity series gives the arrangement of metals in the descending order of the reactivity of those metals.

Electrochemical series and reactivity series are important listings of chemical elements; electrochemical series includes chemical elements with electrode potentials, while reactivity series includes metals.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Electrochemical Series 
3. What is Reactivity Series 
4. Electrochemical Series vs Reactivity Series in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Electrochemical Series vs Reactivity Series 

What is Electrochemical Series?

Electrochemical series is a list of chemical elements that shows the order of their standard electrode potentials. It provides enough information about the relative reactivity of metals in aqueous solutions under standard conditions. Another common name for this series is “activity series.” Furthermore, this series lists metals in order of decreasing reactivity.

At the top of the series, it has alkali metals and alkaline earth metals. These are more reactive and easily undergo oxidation than metals at the bottom. Moreover, they easily react to form compounds. These metals are thus called “active metals.”

At the bottom of the series, there are transition metals. They are relatively very stable and do not form compounds readily. Examples include copper, gold, silver, etc. Because of their low reactivity, we often use them to make coins, jewelry, etc., so we call them “noble metals.”

Moreover, this series gives the electrode potential of these chemical elements, and the list is arranged according to the standard electrode potentials. We can measure this value by taking the particular metal as the cathode and the standard hydrogen electrode as the anode.

What is Reactivity Series?

Reactivity series of metals is also known as the activity series, and it describes the arrangement of metals in the descending order of the reactivity of those metals. We can use the details given by the activity series to predict the displacement ability of a metal. In other words, we can determine whether a metal can displace another metal in a single displacement reaction. Also, we can use this reactivity series to obtain information on the reactivity of metals towards water and acids.

For example, metals like potassium, sodium, lithium, and strontium react with water, and metals like magnesium, aluminum, manganese, zinc react with acids, whereas metals such as antimony, bismuth, mercury, and silver are highly unreactive. In this series, hydrogen is included, although it is not a metal because it is used as the standard for comparison.

Figure 01: The Reactivity of Metals in Dilute Sulfuric Acid

Moreover, the metals at the top of the series are powerful reducing agents. Therefore, they easily get oxidized. This means these metals tarnish very easily. Further, the reducing ability grows weaker when traversing down the series. Besides, all the metals that appear above hydrogen in the series can liberate hydrogen gas when reacting with dilute HCl or dilute sulfuric acid.

What is the Difference Between Electrochemical Series and Reactivity Series?

Electrochemical series and reactivity series are important listings of chemical elements; electrochemical series includes chemical elements with electrode potentials, while reactivity series includes metals. The key difference between electrochemical series and reactivity series is that electrochemical series gives the order of the standard electrode potentials, whereas reactivity series gives the arrangement of metals in the descending order of the reactivity of those metals.

The below infographic presents the differences between electrochemical series and reactivity series in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Electrochemical Series vs Reactivity Series

Electrochemical series is a list of chemical elements that shows the order of standard electrode potentials of them. Reactivity series of metals is also known as the activity series and describes the arrangement of metals in the descending order of the reactivity of those metals. The key difference between electrochemical series and reactivity series is that electrochemical series gives the order of the standard electrode potentials, whereas reactivity series gives the arrangement of metals in the descending order of the reactivity of those metals.