written by: Stephanie Mitchell
• edited by: Amanda Grove
• updated: 1/9/2012
Learn about the difference between physical properties and chemical properties, and then apply this knowledge to the element calcium. Find out how calcium occurs in nature, and learn which elements react with calcium and what kinds of compounds they form.
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Calcium compounds appear very frequently in nature, due to its chemical properties. These properties cause it to bond easily with other things to form new substances, such as calcium carbonate and calcium oxide. Discover just what the chemical properties of calcium here.
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What Are Chemical Properties?
Properties are facts that can be used to identify something. Every substance has two kinds of properties: physical and chemical. The physical properties of a substance can be examined without changing the substance itself, like its color, density, or magnetic properties. Testing these things doesn't change the nature of the substance. Testing its chemical properties, however, does change its nature. How a substance will react with another substance, for example, is a chemical property -- combining two kinds of matter to see how they react changes them, and the substance is not the same at the end of the experiment as it was at the beginning. The test has altered its chemical composition.
The chemical properties of calcium are the ways it changes when it comes into contact with other substances. The two substances react to form new chemical bonds together. This creates molecules that are mixes of calcium and the other element or compound in the reaction.
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One of the chemical properties of calcium is that it reacts with a lot of other substances. As a result, pure calcium is never found in nature; it reacts too easily with other elements and with water.
Calcium belongs to the alkaline-earth metal elements on the periodic table, which all react with water. When calcium and water mix, they bond to form calcium hydroxide, and they release a hydrogen gas. This occurs regularly in nature. The bond happens on contact but is relatively slow, so it isn't a violent reaction. When it comes into contact with the air, calcium reacts and tarnishes, and a layer of calcium oxide forms between the oxygen in the air and the pure calcium. Calcium oxide and calcium hydroxide are both basic, as opposed to acidic.
Calcium reacts with carbon in nature as well, forming calcium carbonate, which is the main component of limestone. It is also present in marble, chalk, oyster shells and coral.
Another chemical property of calcium is that, when it burns, it makes a bright reddish-yellow flame.
Finally, most of the halogen elements will react with calcium simply by coming into contact with it, forming compounds. The exceptions are bromine and iodine; calcium only reacts with these two substances when heated. It also reacts with most of the non-metal elements, particularly sulfur and phosphorus.
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Practice identifying physical and chemical properties at http://www.teacherbridge.org/public/bhs/teachers/Dana/chemphys.html.
Find detailed information about calcium, its isotopes and its composition at http://www.chemicalelements.com/elements/ca.html.
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1. Physical and Chemical Properties, http://www.iun.edu/~cpanhd/C101webnotes/matter-and-energy/properties.html.
2. Calcium, Chemical Element, http://www.chemistryexplained.com/elements/A-C/Calcium.html.