A general term for any metal in group 1A of the periodic table (lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, and francium). Historically, 'alkali' referred just to sodium and potassium. It was later extended to refer to other univalent metals. The alkali metals tend to be soft, silvery metals that are strongly electropositive. They react vigorously with water to form a basic hydroxide solution. All alkali metals burn readily is air and are very reactive. See also alkaline earth metal for comparison.
Sources Checked for Data in Record
- G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 26
- Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
- The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998