Single Replacement Reactions

The love triangle. Hollywood’s favorite subplot to shoehorn into a movie. You’ve seen them around, either in the media or with your peers. Maybe you’ve even been a part of one. However you experienced it, be in in your own life or through movies like the Hunger Games, you know that they vacillate between couples frequently. Katniss swung between Peeta and Gale repeatedly over the course of four movies. I don’t know your personal experience, but it’s a safe bet that there was a lot of speculation over who the final choice would be.

Yay, my least favorite trope – Wikimedia Commons

With single displacement reactions, there is no need for speculation. Say we start with an established couple, we’ll call them H and Cl. They’ve been together for as long as you can remember, always happy as can be. One day, a new kid, Al, arrives on campus. Cl is immediately attracted to the stranger and everyone can see what is coming next, including H. Try as they might, H can’t stop Cl’s attraction and they sadly let them go to be with Cl. Heartbroken, they are consoled by their sibling, another H. As they talk it out, H slowly moves on from Cl, wishing the new couple well.

Such chemistry – Pixabay
You can finally move on – Pexels







The scenario above outlines the basis of a single replacement reaction. An established chemical compound is mixed with a pure substance, causing the compound to split in two. Depending on the charge of the elements, one half of the compound attaches itself to the pure substance, creating a new compound and leaving the other half of the original compound alone.

Generic form of a single displacement reaction –

The analogy I used describes the reaction between hydrochloric acid and aluminum, shown by the equation 2HCl + Al -> H2 + AlCl2. To see the reaction in action, click this indecisive top of a heart: < 8 > In the video, they go a step further and prove that hydrogen gas is a product by lighting the resultant gas on fire, so there really is no reason to watch the single replacement reaction in action.

Next up: love…quadrangles?


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