Metallic magnesium reacts only slowly, but magnesium vapour, produced when Mg burns, reacts extremely quickly due to the high temperature and efficient mixing, and produces heat very rapidly. Magnesium also reacts with many other substances and elements, such as acids, bases, nitrogen, halogens and oxygen. Theoretically, they are all capable of displacing hydrogen from water, but that doesn't happen. magnesium forms a layer of $\ce{MgO}$ readily on it's surface when exposed to air, thus preventing further reaction, when you put $\ce{Mg}$ in water, which is actually the $\ce{Mg}$ with the $\ce{MgO}$ crest on it, it is essentially inert to water as the oxide crest won't react, and or allow access to the interior where pure $\ce{Mg}$ lies. Clean magnesium ribbon has a slight reaction with cold water. All three metals are above hydrogen in the activity series. Hence the explosion when water is added to burning magnesium. Under ordinary conditions, none of these reacts with water. To increase the rate of the reaction with water, react red hot magnesium with water in the form of steam.See the Web Links to the left for more information about the activity series. Students in the lab can complete the reaction between magnesium and cold/warm water. The reaction between steam and magnesium should only be completed as a demonstration and is liable to force the bung out at high speed, as the pressure builds in the gas tube. Magnesium reacts with water to produce hydrogen and a lot of heat. This is in contrast with calcium, immediately below magnesium in the periodic table, which does react slowly with cold water. Magnesium metal does however react with steam to give magnesium oxide (MgO) (or magnesium hydroxide, Mg(OH) 2 , with excess steam) and hydrogen gas (H 2 ). Magnesium does not react with water to any significant extent. See also the related demonstration Making and Testing Hydrogen. Magnesium reacts with steam or water vapor to produce magnesium oxide and hydrogen gas. However, its reaction with cold water produces magnesium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. Typically no, but magnesium can react slightly with cold water and more vigorously with hot water.

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