Displacement Reaction Definition

What Is a Displacement Reaction in Chemistry?

In a displacement reaction, atoms or ions replace other atoms or ions.
In a displacement reaction, atoms or ions replace other atoms or ions. Comstock, Getty Images

Displacement Reaction Definition

A displacement reaction is a type of reaction where part of one reactant is replaced by another reactant. A displacement reaction is also known as a replacement reaction or a metathesis reaction. There are two types of displacement reactions:

Single displacement reactions are reactions where one reactant replaces part of the other.

AB + C → AC + B

An example is the reaction between iron and copper sulfate to produce iron sulfate and copper:

Fe + CuSO4 → FeSO4 + Cu

Here, both iron and copper have the same valence. One metal cation takes the place of the other bonding to the sulfate anion.

Double displacement reactions are reactions where the cations and anions in the reactants switch partners to form products.

AB + CD → AD + CB

An example is the reaction between silver nitrate and sodium chloride to form silver chloride and sodium nitrate:

AgNO3 + NaCl → AgCl + NaNO3