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Displacement Reaction – Definition, with Examples For Class 10

Definition: A displacement reaction is the one wherein the atom or a set of atoms is displaced by another atom in a molecule. For instance, when iron is added to a copper sulphate solution, it displaces the copper metal. A + B-C → A-C + B. The above equation only exists when A is more reactive than B.

Displacement Reaction

P+ QR=PQ + R

Displacement reaction is a very important chemical reaction, which is used in various processes like metal extraction, extraction of iron, welding, etc. In a displacement reaction, the less reactive atom in a compound is displaced with more reactive atoms.

P + QR

Here, in this compound, P, Q, and R, are different atoms, and P, is more reactive than R. hence, P replaces R in the above reaction. The most common example of displacement reaction is iron and copper sulfate.

Fe + CuSO4                                         FeSO4 + Cu

Here, Fe is more reactive than Cu, therefore it replaces Cu in the above reaction.


Displacement Reaction Types

There are two types of displacement reactions

  • Single displacement reaction
  • Double displacement reaction


  1. Single Displacement reaction- It is a kind of oxidation reaction, in which a single element is replaced. The element which has higher reactivity will replace the less reactive element.


  1. Double displacement reaction – In a double displacement reaction, both the elements of a compound react with each other and form a new element. These reactions mostly take place in an aqueous state, which facilitates precipitation and helps the elements form new bonds.


PQ + AB                         PA + QB

Here P, Q, A and B are four different elements that react in an aqueous solution and due double displacement reaction, the elements get exchanged and form a new element.


HCl + NaOH                         NaCl + H2O


Na replaces H from HCl, and H is displaced in the place of Na, with OH, forming H2O


For every equation, it will be difficult to learn all the outcomes. To understand the displacement reactions, you should be familiar with the Reactivity series.

What is the Reactivity series?

It is the series of all the elements in order of reactivity, the elements with higher reactivity are placed in the higher places of the reactivity series.

The reactivity series goes from Potassium, most reactive and platinum, least reactive.


Metal Symbol Reactivity
Cesium Cs  












Francium Fr
Rubidium Rb
Potassium K
Sodium Na
Lithium Li
Barium Ba
Radium Ra
Strontium Sr
Calcium Ca
Magnesium Mg
Aluminum Al
Titanium Ti
Manganese Mn  






Zinc Zn
Chromium Cr
Iron Fe
Cadmium Cd
Cobalt Co
Nickel Ni
Tin Sn
Lead Pb
Hydrogen H Non- Reactive
Antimony Sb  






Bismuth Bi
Copper Cu
Tungsten W
Mercury Hg
Silver Ag
Gold Au
Platinum Pt


The reactivity series helps to decide whether the metal will displace another metal from the compound.

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FAQ’s on Displacement Reaction

  1. What is the use of displacement reaction?
    Displacement reaction is used in metal extraction, iron extraction, and welding.


  1. Are displacement reactions exothermic or endothermic?
    Displacement reactions are exothermic because they occur spontaneously.


  1. Why does a displacement reaction take place?
    In a reaction, when a high reactivity metal displaces the less reactive metal, then a displacement reaction takes place.


  1. What happens when Hydrochloric acid reacts with zinc?
    When Hydrochloric acid reacts with zinc, a single displacement reaction takes place, giving the equation

HCl + Zn            =              ZnCl2 + H2

  1. Difference between Single and double displacement reaction?
    In a single displacement reaction only one element is displaced but in a double displacement reaction, both the elements are displaced forming a new compound.


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