This is probably a really dumb question, but I can't find a clearly spelled out for me yes or no answer by searching through google, so hopefully I'll get a yes or no answer her. Can metals, for example lead, be oxidized by being submerged in boiling water?

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    $\begingroup$ No, it's not a dumb question (I'd suggest to edit the "dumb" part out). Yes, metals can be oxidized in boiling water (and also at lower temperatures, e.g. alkali metals). $\endgroup$ – andselisk Dec 9 '17 at 1:46
  • $\begingroup$ (1/2) Long story for my concern, told by hypochondriac) I wanted to shrink a section of my hat that I bought from Bangladesh, because it had been was protruding outward slightly. I boiled water, collected it with a dropper and then fed that just boiled water to the section for 20 minutes. Some of it spilled onto the metal button thing that all the seems meet at in the middle, on the inside of the hat during the process. Left it on my bed to dry. Later saw on a small part of the bed where the hat was, a faint orangish color surrounded by the circle dampness that was left. $\endgroup$ – Concerned Dummy Dec 9 '17 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ (2/2) Paranoid self went to the thought that the metal button was lead for maybe a less regulated country like Bangladesh could let stuff like that slide even though the hat was by a western brand (Abercrombie and Fitch), and that it had deteriorated while under the boiling water and bled into the soakage of my hat, later soaking into my bed, leaving the faint oragish mark because lead oxide can be red apparently. There may be no connection between the mark and the metal button at all for all I know. And I may be making a mountain out of a molehill. But in your opinion is my concern plausible. $\endgroup$ – Concerned Dummy Dec 9 '17 at 3:17

Nope definitely not lead, but yes for a few of the metals.

There are different reason why things oxidize and reduces

To have a thing oxidize, you need another thing that reduces

To oxidize, the thing (like Pb you say) has to lose electrons and become more positive. Reduction is vice versa.

Water has to reduce in order to oxidize Pb.

However, water is a very persistent compound, it doesn't change chemically after heated to high temperatures (boiling). Neither does it want electrons. And so without doubt water is very useless here.

Pb on the other hand, is not very keen on giving out electrons (at least compared to water), both of them (even when heated) does not interfere with each other and no chemical change is observed.


Some metals have a grudge on electrons and would lose it very rapidly. For example Group 1 metals like sodium Compare to sodium, water's resolve to reject electrons is very weak, and such, when Na is in contact with cold water, Na rapidly provides electrons to water. This process is very quick and it produces hydrogen gas, and we can see it catching on fire. Caution: do not touch the liquid after having water react with sodium.

So, yes, some metals do oxidize when contact with water, but also, no, some don't, at least for lead.


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