How Can You Identify Metals?

There are several methods that can be used to identify metals that require you to measure different properties and look up those properties on a chart. One method is to determine the density of an unknown metal. In addition to the unknown metal, you need a scale, measuring container with water and a calculator.

  1. Measure the mass

    Measure the mass of the unknown metal with a standard scale. Typically, this measurement should be in grams.

  2. Measure the volume

    Measure the volume of the unknown metal. Use a measuring container that is filled with water. Place the sample in the water. Once the water has settled, measure the displaced water to determine the volume. Typically, this measurement should be in milliliters or cubic centimeters.

  3. Determine the density

    Determine the density of the unknown metal by the following equation: density = mass/volume. The units should be in grams per milliliter.

  4. Look up the density

    Look up the density of the unknown metal by using a metal properties chart that lists densities. Sometimes, it may be necessary to round up or down to the nearest number. These charts can be found online, in lab manuals and in textbooks. In some cases, the densities may be in kilograms per cubic meters. If this is the case, you must calculate the conversion.