Alkali metal

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Alkali metal

The term used for the elements in Group IA of the Periodic Table - Lithium, Sodium, Potassium, Rubidium, Caesium.

The alkali metals are silvery coloured, soft, low density metals, which react readily with halogens to form ionic salts, and with water to form strongly alkaline hydroxides. These elements all have one electron in their outermost shell, so the energetically preferred state of achieving a filled electron shell is to lose one electron to form a singly charged positive ion.

Hydrogen, with a solitary electron, nominally belongs in the alkali metals group. However, removal of that single electron requires considerably more energy than for the other alkali metals. Like the halogens, only one additional electron is required to fill in the outermost shell of the hydrogen atom, so hydrogen can be regarded in some respects as behaving like a halogen; its elemental form is a diatomic gas, and it can even form salts (called hydrides) with the alkali metals, where the metal has donated an electron to the hydrogen, almost as if hydrogen were actually a halogen.