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Group 7 - the halogens

The Group 7 elements are known as the halogens. They are reactive non-metals and are
always found in compounds with other elements. Chlorine, bromine and iodine are all
halogens.

Group 7 – the halogens

The Group 7 elements are called the halogens. They are placed in the vertical column,
second from the right, in the periodic table.

Chlorine, bromine and iodine are the three common Group 7 elements. Group 7 elements
form salts when they react with metals. The term ‘halogen’ means 'salt former'.

Properties and uses of the halogens

This table summarises some of the properties and uses of three halogens:

Element Properties Typical use


Chlorine Green gas Sterilising water
Bromine Orange liquid Making pesticides and plastics
Iodine Grey solid Sterilising wounds

Iodine forms a purple vapour when it is warmed.

Predicting properties
The halogens show trends in physical properties as you go down the group.

Melting point and boiling point


The halogens have low melting points and low boiling points. This is a typical property of
non-metals. Fluorine has the lowest melting and boiling points. The melting and boiling
points then increase as you go down the group.
Melting and boiling points of Group 7 elements

State at room temperature

Room temperature is usually taken as being 25°C. At this temperature, fluorine and chlorine
are gases, bromine is a liquid, and iodine and astatine are solids. There is therefore a trend in
state from gas to liquid to solid as you go down the group.

Colour

The halogens become darker as you go down the group. Fluorine is very pale yellow,
chlorine is yellow-green, and bromine is red-brown. Iodine crystals are shiny purple - but
easily turn into a dark purple vapour when they are warmed up.

Predictions

When we can see a trend in the properties of some of the elements in a group, it is possible to
predict the properties of other elements in that group. Astatine is below iodine in Group 7.
The colour of these elements gets darker as you go down the group. Iodine is purple, and
astatine is black.

Reactivity of halogens

The non-metal elements in Group 7 - known as the halogens - get less reactive as you go
down the group. This is the opposite trend to that seen in the alkali metals in Group 1 of the
periodic table.

Fluorine is the most reactive element of all in Group 7.

You can see the trend in reactivity if you react the halogens with iron wool.
Halogen Reaction with iron wool
Reacts with almost anything instantly. Very few scientists handle fluorine because
Fluorine
it is so dangerous.
Chlorine Reacts with heated iron wool very quickly.
Bromine Has to be warmed and the iron wool heated. The reaction is faster.
Iodine Has to be heated strongly and so does the iron wool. The reaction is slow

Halogen displacement reactions

The reactivity of the halogens – the Group 7 elements - decreases as you move down the
group. This can be shown by looking at displacement reactions.

Example

When chlorine (as a gas or dissolved in water) is added to sodium bromide solution, the
chlorine takes the place of the bromine. Because chlorine is more reactive than bromine, it
displaces bromine from sodium bromide.

The solution turns brown. This brown colour is the displaced bromine. The chlorine has gone
to form sodium chloride.

In this equation, the Cl and Br have swapped places:

chlorine + sodium bromide → sodium chloride + bromine

Cl2(aq) + 2NaBr(aq) → 2NaCl(aq) + Br2(aq)

This type of reaction happens with all the halogens. A more reactive halogen displaces a less
reactive halogen from a solution of one of its salts.

Reactivity series

If you test different combinations of the halogens and their salts, you can work out a
reactivity series for Group 7:

 the most reactive halogen displaces all of the other halogens from solutions of their
salts, and is itself displaced by none of the others
 the least reactive halogen displaces none of the others, and is itself displaced by all
of the others

It doesn’t matter whether you use sodium salts or potassium salts – it works the same for both
types.

The slideshow shows what happens when chlorine, bromine and iodine are added to various
halogen salts:
Adding chlorine, bromine and iodine to halogen salts

Chlorine water is added to three solutions

The result of adding chlorine to the three solutions

Bromine water is added to three solutions


The result of adding bromine to the three solutions

The result of adding bromine to the three solutions

Iodine water is added to three solutions

The result of adding iodine to the three solutions

Redox reactions involve both oxidation (loss of electrons) and reduction (gain of electrons).
You could remember it as: OIL RIG – Oxidation Is Loss of electrons, Reduction Is Gain of
electrons.

Halogen displacement reactions are redox reactions because the halogens gain electrons
and the halide ions lose electrons.

When we consider one of the displacement reactions, we can see which element is being
oxidised and which is being reduced.
bromine + potassium iodide → iodine + potassium bromide

Br2 + 2KI → I2 + 2KBr

As an ionic equation (ignoring the ‘spectator’ potassium ions):

Br2 + 2I- → I2 + 2Br-

We can see that the bromine has gained electrons, so it has been reduced. The iodide ions
have lost electrons, so they have been oxidised.

Hydrogen chloride

When hydrogen reacts with chlorine, hydrogen chloride is formed. Hydrogen chloride is a
gas, and has the formula HCl(g).

When hydrogen chloride dissolves in water, hydrochloric acid is formed. This has the same
formula, but you can tell the difference because of the state symbol (aq), which stands for
‘aqueous’. The formula is written as HCl(aq).

Hydrogen chloride is made from molecules. The hydrogen atom and the chlorine atom are
joined by a covalent bond. When hydrogen chloride forms hydrochloric acid, the molecules
split into ions.

HCl(aq) → H+(aq) + Cl-(aq)

The H+ ions make this aqueous solution acidic. The solution also conducts electricity because
it contains ions that are free to move.

However, when hydrogen chloride gas dissolves in a solvent called methylbenzene, the
molecules do not split up. A solution of HCl in methylbenzene does not contain hydrogen
ions, so it is not acidic. The solution also has a low electrical conductivity.

Glossary

1. acidicHaving a pH less than 7.


2. aqueousDissolved in water to form a solution. Shown as (aq) in chemical equations.
3. atomAll elements are made of atoms. An atom consists of a nucleus containing
protons and neutrons, surrounded by electrons.
4. conductTo allow electricity, heat or other energy forms to pass through.
5. covalent bondA bond between atoms formed when atoms share electrons to achieve a
full outer shell of electrons.
6. electronSubatomic particle, with a negative charge and a negligible mass relative to
protons and neutrons.
7. elementA substance made of one type of atom only.
8. group 1The first vertical column of elements in the periodic table, starting with
lithium and ending with francium. Also called the alkali metals.
9. halogenAn element placed in group 7 of the periodic table, which starts with fluorine
and ends with astatine. The name 'halogen' means 'salt-producing' because halogens
produce a range of salts when they react with metals.
10. ionElectrically charged particle, formed when an atom or molecule gains or loses
electrons.
11. ionic equationA chemical equation that shows how positively charged ions join with
negatively charged ions to make a compound.
12. moleculeA collection of two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds.
13. periodic tableA tabular representation of all known elements in order based on atomic
number, eg all the noble gases are found on the right of the periodic table.
14. reactivity seriesA list of elements in order of their reactivity, usually from most
reactive to least reactive.
15. solventThe liquid in which the solute dissolves to form a solution.
16. vapourVapour is a cloud of liquid particles. Steam is water vapour