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To start off with I want everyone to know that I'm not doing this for nay kind if drugs or anything illegal, just having some fun. So I know that lithium( Li) is the least alkaline metal in group one and that it will react with water like Na ,k, Fr, Rb and Cesium (Cs). So I decided to take apart some rechargeable D cell Li batteries to gather some lithium, the first time I tried it didn't react with the water at all. The second time I did all my work covering everything in mineral oil to make sure non if it reacted with the moister in the air ,then dried it. But when I placed that in water it still did nothing after 10 minutes. I even tried hot water but still nothing. Can someone give me an explanation if what's wrong with my lithium? The batteries came out of a cordless drill that no longer took charge in case that has anything to do with it. Thank you ( I'm sorry for any spelling mistakes or chemical symbol errors, been quite a few years since I have been out of chemistry)

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  • $\begingroup$ Some good answers below, but I'll add that if somehow you had lithium, you would know it. It not only reacts with water, but floats on the surface due to its lower density. The rate of reaction, far less reactive than sodium or potassium. Hydrogen is evolved in the reaction, but usually not enough heat to ignite it into flame. $\endgroup$ – docscience Jun 4 '16 at 16:43
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The lithium-ion batteries do not contain pure metallic lithium, nor do they contain any metallic alloy of lithium. They contain various intercalation compounds which are relatively harmless by themselves.

When a charged battery is short-circuited (by throwing it into the water or otherwise), it may react quite violently, but that's another story. Any battery would do the same, more or less. It's about physics, not chemistry (I mean, chemical reactions would occur as well, but they don't explain the explosive part; they would occur during the normal operation all the same).

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  • $\begingroup$ @Ivan I would expect in the charged state that the anode would be quite reactive. Typically, it is some form of carbon intercalated with lithium. In the uncharged state, the lithium would be in ionic form at the cathode and completely harmless. $\endgroup$ – Qubit1028 Jun 4 '16 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Qubit1028 True, it would be reactive, but still far less so than metallic lithium. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Jun 4 '16 at 14:16
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Inside batteries it isn't pure lithium metal used. I believe that it is an alloy of lithium and cobalt or lithium and iron. This would mean that the metal strip that you put into the water won't react as vigorously as you would expect lithium in it's element form to.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well I did not know that to just assumed it was mostly pure lithium. I have seen on the internet tho that the lithium battery's react violent in water. That's y I am going with it has something to do with the charger or the age $\endgroup$ – user100476 Jun 3 '16 at 17:56

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