Lanthanum

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Lanthanum is a rare-earth metal with chemical symbol La, and an atomic weight of 57. Lanthanum is the first element in the lanthanide series.

Lanthanum's position in the periodic table is shown different depending on the type of table. Some models put it in group 3, others or at the end of the f block with lutetium and lawrencium instead, while other types of tables only have scandium and yttrium, leaving lanthanum in the f block.

Properties

Chemical

Lanthanum is one of the more reactive rare earth metals. It reacts slowly with cold water, and very quickly with hot water. It will also react with elemental halogens, chalcogens, as well as carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen, silicon, and boron.

Physical

Lanthanum is a silvery white metal that tarnishes quickly in contact with air. It is a very soft metal and can be cut with a knife.

Availability

Lanthanum is readily available from source such as Metallium and eBay.

Preparation

It is difficult to prepare lanthanum metal in an amateur setting, though a method for making rare earth metals, involving reducing the fluoride with calcium metal, is being developed by the Sciencemadness community.

Projects

  • Make Mischmetal
  • Nickel-metal hydride battery

Handling

Safety

Lanthanum metal will react with water to produce hydrogen, which is flammable. Lanthanum compounds are thought to be non-toxic, however not much research has been done on the toxicity so they should be handled with care.

Storage

Best stored under inert atmosphere.

Disposal

Best to try to recycle it.

References

Relevant Sciencemadness threads